Tuesday, September 16, 2008

RIP: David Foster Wallace

What seems like a million years ago, I remember picking up a paperback copy of "The Broom of the System." I think it was 1988 or 1989. As I started to read, I remember laughing, laughing, and laughing some more. Though I don't remember any plot points of the novel (time to re-read, yes!), I remember loving its snarky humor and witty wordplay. "Who was this guy?" I thought. Later, as David Foster Wallace wrote more books--short story collections, essays, and one fricking huge novel called "Infinite Jest," I continued to read and chuckle. I remember his essays about playing tennis as a teen (hot, Southern Illinois wind) and his hysterical exploration of the culture of cruise ships (food, food, and more food). Before David Sedaris, for me, there was David Foster Wallace.

Over the last few years, however, I had not thought of Wallace much.

Then, driving home from Chicago on Sunday, I heard the news that he had died--committed suicide actually--on Friday. I was surprised at how strong my reaction was to the news. I didn't know him. I had only read him and heard him read once at an independent bookstore. Yet, I was sad and angry and curiously shocked.

There have been several tributes (appreciations) in the New York Times already but I like this one today by VERLYN KLINKENBORG, his colleague at Pomona College.

I like how it shows David, the man and teacher, and not just the writer, though I realize it is impossible to separate these roles in any one. Anyway, I just wanted to write something instead of kick the wall and curse loudly about the absence of one more offbeat, self-aware, funny, and wickedly smart man in the world.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Darius 2.0

Welcome, Darius 2.0!

Well, sort of. We had a new addition to the family this weekend... a little black kitten! He does have white socks and a white "bib", so not exactly like Darius. But he does knead!

Story in brief: my aunt lives on the edge of a small town. She always has wild cats coming and going. She's seen 3 or 4 litters this summer. A few weeks ago, a tiny kitten with its eyes matted shut was wandering around alone. They watched for a day, then intervened - Mama cat was obviously no where around. Long story short, my mother and aunt maneuvered to get my kids attached to this kitten! He's incredibly people oriented, especially for these wild kittens who are very skittish.

His name is Roscoe, and about 8 weeks old. The kids are having fun!

This has really nothing to do with books or gardens, but figured you'd all want to know anyway....

Calling all you YA Readers!

Very interesting show on Minnesota Public Radio this morning (I think their first foray away from the very interesting, but save for another post, coverage of the RNC) about books for teens - "Does Catcher in the Rye still resonate with teens?". The book list isn't there yet, but they assured us it'd be up soon. In the meantime, if you have time to listen to some of it, grab it as a podcast. I think you'd all really enjoy the conversation.

NY Times articles

There were a couple of articles in the NY Times on Tuesday that I thought you all might be interested in.

I had heard about a new series that Rick Riordan was going to sketch out, but would be written by a number of other authors. Scholastic, the publisher of the series, has had a lot of voice in how the plot plays out not only in the books but in Web-based games. It sounds like Scholastic is trying to manufacture a Harry Potter-like media event; it will be interesting to see if it gets the audience they hope for.

There was also a brief bit about Stephenie Meyer putting off indefinitely the publication of the final book in the Twilight series. Final book??? I thought Breaking Dawn was the final book!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

School Days

Happy Back to School to you professor types! I hope you have great classes this fall. The weather, still sultry this morning, gave way to beautiful cool, fall air after a huge storm system went through midday.

From the other side, we got S. moved in at the U last week and J. hits the high school this year as a freshman. I get a giggle out of having two freshman, the kids don't really find it as amusing.

And keeping it fertile, you should see the tomato plants. Full and heavy with round green tomatos. I almost dread the day (and you know it will be all at once) when they all turn ripe and I have to drop everything and can salsa for my dear hubby. Hmm. I guess I need a little of that warm summer air back.