Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Books I'm Reading 32) Last Words by George Carlin

I was a child of the 80's but I came to become a teenager in the 1990's and just as George Carlin was getting into his greatest stride, I learned of his presence. I knew he had been around before (the hippy dippy weatherman), but the 90's was when I learned of him and thus, it's when I knew him best.

Last words was his 'memoir' a word he didn't like as it sounded too much like 'moi'. The interesting thing to me was the pacing of the autobiography and the tone. The entire tone of the book was as I know Carlin from the 90's and early 2000's, deeply thoughtful and self analytical, brutally honest and absurdly whimsical all at the same time. He had that way about his language that could disarm you. Everyone's got some childhood shit, and you get a lot of that for the first part of the book. In a way that it obvious that Carlin's rebel side formed early. You get the painful history of substance abuse as well. But neither of those is the part I really enjoyed.

He's got this section where he talks about becoming Mr. Conductor at Shining Times Station. I have to say, that small bit, above else, that gem of insight into the universal human condition of childhood, is to me the best part of the book.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Books I'm Reading 31) World War Z by Max Brooks

Being published after America's response to Sept. 11, 2001 gives this book a very moder perspective and while I actually got the audio book, not the hardcover, it's an amazing "history" to go through.

While I am a fan of zombie movies, this particular story is great, not because of its zombies but because of the personal (albeit fictional) stories associated with the doomsday zombie war.

While not making direct mention of US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan (calling it instead the "last brushfire" war) it's got the full range of human reaction that you would expect of a post second Gulf War America. But it takes it further, going across the world to touch on so many different nations and cultures and exploring with fearful detail, how the world might react to such a global crisis. That to me is the greatest part of all. It's one thing to tell the old Night of The Living Dead story from the point of view of one nation, like in 28 Days Later, but another thing entirely to expand the reaction across the globe to explore how world war of the zombie kind might effect a change of government in Cuba, or turn Honolulu into the new national keystone.

That's not to say it ignores America. Quite the contrary, it takes aim at America's modern consumer culture, the uselessness of the talking heads on 24 hr. cable news networks, our ridiculous national fascination with celebrities (by the way Max, shoudl you read this, thank you very much for killing them) and a host of other aspects that generally annoy the crap out of mean when it comes to today's America.

Plus, they got Alan Alda to read one of the parts, I mean c'mon Alan Fucking Alda, how awesome is that?!?! I mean they had like Mark Hamill in there which is neat on a couple of front (one of which being that his dad was in the Navy) and Henry Rollins which, good on you guys 'cause Rollins is all sorts of awesome in his ow right, but Alan Alda. Woot. As the kids say.