Wednesday, May 2, 2012

a little Kinky ( Friedman), Fifty Shades of Grey and Extra Virginity

I find it strange in an odd sort of way, pardon the redundancy in my adjectives, strange could be defined in a dark sense where odd is just damn odd, but strange and odd,  the perplexity of how most books I read some how find a way to be connected to each other.

Not literally, as they don't share the same spine, unless it were a reproduction of several books into one that you quite often see on the bargain table at your local bookstore, virtual or brick and mortar. 

But connected by words, title or subject matter.  Take for instance the last three books I read, Kinky Friedman's, Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned ;  EL James' Fifty Shades of Grey and ......Extra Virginity by, Tom Mueller.

Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned doesn't share the same plot or subject as Fifty Shades however the author's name Kinky, lends itself to what Fifty Shades delves into. Where as the topic covered in Extra Virginity( about the olive oil industry) is no way connected to Fifty Shades , but there's an abundance of virginity in Fifty Shades, both physically and emotionally.

I wonder if this connection, segues or serendipitous-ness stems from the years of being a high school yearbook editor.  Keeping an eye on copy, photos and layouts, making sure it all fits together, pages to pages, names to photos, connecting all the classes to produce an annual for schoolmates, teachers and alumni to enjoy while in school and generations beyond? Probably not.

Or perhaps its due to an injury as a  young child that jostled a cluster of  brain cells to separate in my over sized noggin and float about only to  re-form in a corner of my cranium reserved for literature connectivity? Probably not.

Or is there a  planetary prognosticator that propels paperbacks and hardcovers seemingly unrelated into my vision to satisfy my reading appetite connecting that book to one previously read? How  they appear on my bookshelf reaching out to be chosen like a puppy yelping to be taken home from the shelter or pet store? Who knows?

I don't remember the exact date or time when I saw Kinky on a shelf. Kinky Friedman that is. But I do remember the color of the cover and title enticed me to reach up and slide it from its comfort zone in the alphabetized fictions section of the local used book store.  Reading the litany of people Friedman calls friends and supporters, I thought I'd give him a try. One could deduce I'm a virgin of  the words and humor of Kinky Friedman.

 Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned is colorful, odd and quite strange.  I've used  those words in the post now more than once, but I'm at a loss as to how to describe this book. Friedman does have an interesting grasp on the language of words and style and one might compare him to Updike, although Updike, a man of letters, casts aspersions on the establishment of marriage, sexism throughout his many books and would probably roll over in his grave if he heard someone compare him to Kinky. Perhaps Hunter S Thompson is a better comparison, sans the LSD.

My apologies to the late John Updike if any such comparison could be deemed an insult and has caused soil to overturn in some cemetery, my analogy only to the talent of ones ability to write and not necessarily as to how well. Everyone is good at something. No apologies to Hunter S., he'd probably enjoy it.

But back to Two Birds..a book about Walter Snow an author struggling to write the great novel only to encounter two strange characters who help catapult him over the wall better known as a writers block, and finish his novel all the while participating in the exploits of these two characters, Clyde, a woman and Fox, a man. Anti establishment, pro Marijuana, Clyde and Fox arhelp fill the blank pages of paper he so stared at through coffee and cigarettes and spins his novel using these two cohorts as his inspiration.

I have a few other Kinky books on my shelf to read, that's Kinky the author, and one could deduce that Kinky's books are less on Kinky and more on Quirky.  Titles such as The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover and Roadkill , which he fictitiously helps out his non-fiction friend, Willie Nelson.  In doing some research on Mr. Friedman, I find he has his own cigar, tequila and coffee brand.

Friedman's outlook on life and writing can best be summed up by his quote on literary genre,  "There's a fine line between fiction and non-fiction and I think I snorted in somewhere in 1979."

So I'm no longer a virgin of Kinky...speaking of which, we turn to EL James, Fifty Shades of Grey...

I dog-eared page 269. I never dog ear hardcovers. With my copy of Fifty Shades being soft cover, I didn't mind turning down a page corner to mark my spot. I did so for a much needed break.  Something was bothering me about this book. It wasn't the subject matter for I've encounter snippets of this type of writing through the many volumes of books that I've read, but it was something else.

After a few hours of eye resting, I realized what it was. One of the central characters was irritating. Bothersome. Demanding.  Given the subject matter, demanding is appropriate and obvious, but this feeling began manifesting itself as I continued to read more to the point of fatigue. And there was something else...

James' characters seem too immature in age to feel or use chosen lexicon making her characters not believable. I struggle with Ana's emotions and thoughts as she tells her story. Her being in her early 20's I find difficult to comprehend her having a vocabulary of an adult much older, more educated. 

James' continued use of the phrase, "breath hitches" is also an annoyance. Now in giving ones opinion on a book, one may find pinpointing exact phrases is trivial, but the phrase is so odd that its constant use is overdone.

 I could see Ana and Christain in the late 30s or 40s and this story would be much more believable but it is fiction and someone found this book good enough to publish.  I've never not finished a book, no matter how bad I may feel it is. To not finish a book would rob the author of their creativity. How does one know how good or bad a book might be if one doesn't finish it?  So I picked it back up and forged through.

With "...Grey" being the first of a trilogy,  Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed being the next two, I had the preconceived notion that the story doesn't end on page 514 but continues through two more tomes.  I've been told the next is less erotic or which ever word you so choose to use. Carnal exploits on  every other 4th page or so, make that 3, is a bit much, leaving this reader wondering, where does this story go, is there really one here at all.  Then I'm told, 'what a change in plot' there is in the next book.

I'm left unfulfilled as page 508 turns into 509, to 510, 511, 512, 513 to finally the end, 514. The end of this book anyway. I guess I'll have to read the next two books to find out what happens with Ana and Christian, or maybe not. ( this afternoon while at a bookstore, I asked a woman who was looking for the 2nd book if she liked the first, "Loved it and so did my husband!" Well there ya have it.) Mick Jagger says, "get off the fence it's creasin' your butt" well, I'm still sittin on the fence for volume 2 and 3.

Which brings us to Extra Virginity, by Tom Mueller...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What do Gregg Allman, Dan Rather and Ryan O'Neal all have in common?

They're all releasing books this week!

Today as a matter of fact!