Monday, June 9, 2008
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight.
This is a very indulgent moment. It's the kind of moment you can only have when you're alone. If someone else were here (even Mike), I'd become self-deprecating and mock my vanity and terrible taste in music. As it is, I am thoroughly content to be sitting at my desk eating Junior Mints, listening to The Crash Test Dummies (Mmmm ....) and writing whatever comes into my head. It's as close to heaven as I'll probably ever get (while here on Earth, anyway).
I have been reading a lot the past few months. I'm trying to read as much as possible for pleasure this year before starting law school in August. I am terrified that law school will take away my desire to read anything for pleasure ever again. All right, I'm not really afraid of losing it forever - just for the next three years. I've read a few different books that I feel like more people should experience, so I am going to advertise them here.
Now I'm listening to The Presidents of the United States of America. Life is awesome! (It's the Rock Springs High School Monster Music Mix.)
Today's book is: Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight.
It's amazing to me that I can still be surprised and delighted by a sentence. I'd already decided to like the book when I heard the title. Plus, it is full of fun phrases like, "Oh, fergodsake," and most conversational sentences end with a lazy "hey" - as in: "Ja, ja. I'd cry, hey."
Also, I always judge a book by its cover. It's not the only criteria to use when deciding whether or not to read a book, but it's one of the most important. It doesn't matter what brilliance is inside if I don't want to be seen reading it in some public place where someone can ask me about it and I can show off. The picture on the cover of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight is the author at the age of three. She's so adorably ugly that I immediately assumed that she has a good sense of humor and is someone with whom I'd like to be friends. (This turns out to be true, but she does not turn out to be ugly. I am thoroughly jealous of how beautiful she looks on her wedding day.)
The memoir is about "An African Childhood." Alexandra Fuller was born in England, but at the age of two her parents moved to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), where they grew tobacco. It is more a portrait of Africa than a story. She uses the ordinary events of her life to express her love and affection for the callous and often unforgiving land.
Though her childhood was harsh (she had worms; lived with little or no plumbing, rats, malaria and many big scary bugs; and she had a mother who was often drunk), she speaks candidly and lovingly of a land ravaged by civil war, famine and blatant, unapologetic racism. She is not angry when it seems she has every right to be, and she takes full responsibility (sometimes too much - as is the case with the death of her baby sister) for her actions.
Before reading it, I had the romantic, touristy desire to go on an African Safari - safe in a jeep with a pair of binoculars. Reading Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight made me feel as if I had already been to Africa. And though I am grateful for the experience and I still think of Africa in a romantic way, I don't really have an immediate desire to go back.