Thursday, May 14, 2015

What I'm Reading/Watching

Gabriel García Márquez's News of a Kidnapping (1996).  It's a non-fiction account of the abduction of ten journalists and/or their relatives by Pablo Escobar in the early 1990's, tied in with the legal/political framework of the Colombian governments attempts to curb narcoterrorism.  I didn't know much about the subject before reading this book, and Márquez is writing to a Colombian audience, so there are some aspects of the social/political background that aren't immediately apparent to an American audience.  But overall it's a fascinating account of the captivity and political maneuvering surrounding these abductions.

I also read Charles Lee's The Hidden Public (1958) for research.  It's a history of the book-of-the-month club from its inception in 1926 up through 1958.  Lee is clearly a fan of the club, and at times the book reads like an internally produced 'history of our company', but it provides a lot of information clearly and Lee was given access to BOMC's records.

I've just begun Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's The Illuminatus! Trilogy (1975).  It's pretty hilarious so-far, and seems like a mix of Thomas Pynchon and Douglas Adams (think The Crying of Lot 49 meets The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul).  One of the main characters names happens to be Saul Goodman, which can be a bit distracting, kind of like Homer Simpson in Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust.  Shea and Wilson have Pynchon and Adams's taste for bizarre character names, like Hagbard Celine, Harry Coin, and, no shit, Sasparilla Godzilla (but honestly, is that really much weirder than names like Sauncho Smilax or Dirk Gently).  Even Saul Goodman is a silly name (S'all good, man).

I've also been watching some of the original Twilight Zone series on Netflix.  While there are a handful that get replayed frequently, the rest of the series holds up surprisingly well.  The tenth episode, Judgment Night, is worthy of being a classic.  The twist is expected, but the execution is superb.

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