Thursday, April 19, 2007

Guilty Very Guilty Pleasures

From Booking Through Thursday:

Okay, there must be something you read that's a guilty pleasure . . . a Harlequin romance stashed under the mattress. A cheesy sci-fi book tucked in the back of the freezer. A celebrity biography, a phoned-in Western . . . something that you'd really rather not be spotted reading. Even just a novel if you're a die-hard non-fiction fan. Come on, confess. We won't hold it against you!

Deep breath, ok here it goes - does this mean BiblioAddict's going to loose what few readers it has? oh, man! - my guilty reading pleasure is....

cheesy, very cheesy, so cheesy it could decorate a Domino's ultimate cheese pizza (do they even sell those?) romance literature. Do you know the horrible historical romance novels with a long-haired, pouty-lipped woman bent over the brawny arm of a warrior (or pirate) muscular god on the glossy cover? Yeah, those romance novels. What can I say? It's a remnant of the teenage girl I used to be who walked around with hearts in her eyes, waiting for her version of Fabio to swoop in, save her from her drab unromantic life, and carry her off into happily ever-after.

I confess, I'm a little less naive than I was back then but I'm still a hopless romantic so I periodically spend at least one afternoon a month gobbling a romance novel. I don't read those in public anymore. The feeling of respect being sucked out of a room once they get a glimpse of what I'm reading is highly palpable (or it could be my defensive imagination). I have to keep myself from childishly yelling, "But I read smart stuff too!" So now I've reverted to reading my "trash" in the judgment-free comfort of my own home...where I can hide the evidence when I have company. ; ) Alright, well that's enough of my guilty pleasures! What about yours?

Touching the Sides...

Housekeeping vs. the Dirt, a collection of Nick Hornby's reviews for The Believer magazine, is everything I wish BiblioAddict could be (and hopefully will be one day). I'm finding it absolutely wonderful to read a collection of reviews in which it's clear on every single page that this author is obviously passionate about reading. He's informed yet incredibly self-effacing. I'm wondering just what I've been doing these past two months (alright, fine - three months) that have kept me from positively zipping through this slim collection. If Hornby himself should ask (hey, we can all dream right?), I'll tell him I'm trying to let Housekeeping vs. the Dirt touch the sides:

I have always prized the accessible over the obsure, but after reading Housekeeping [the novel by Marilynne Robinson - not his own collection] I can see that in some ways the easy, accesible novel is working at a disadvantage (not that Housekeeping is inaccessible, but it is deep and dark and rich): it's possible to whiz through it without allowing it even to touch the sides, and a bit of side-touching has to happen if a book is going to be properly transformative. If you are so gripped by a book that you want to read it in the mythical single sitting, what chance has it got of making it all the way through the long march to your soul? It'll get flushed out by something else before it's even halfway there.
-- pg. 100

A Persian Myth of the Kurds...

I came across this colorful - though slightly morbid - myth of the birth of the Kurds (the very same group of people who reside in the Iraqi mountains and who were repeatedly shown at the start of the Iraqi war in 2003 dancing in the streets, celebrating the American invasion) in Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings. But first a little background: Zahhak, an evil king has been tricked by a devil who makes two snakes grow out of the king's shoulders. The devil then tells the king that in order to get rid of the snakes he must feed the snakes nothing but human brains. The king consents and has two young men brought to his palace every night where they are killed, their brains fed to the snakes (I told you it was a morbid). So enter two noble men who decide to infiltrate the king's palace disguised as cooks and save one man each night from their horrific fate...

They learned how to prepare numerous dishes and were accepted as cooks in the king's kitchens. When the victims were dragged before the cooks, and the time came for their blood to be spilled, the two men looked at one another with eyes filled with tears and rage in the hearts. Unable to do more, they saved one of the two from slaughter, substituting the brains of a sheep, which they mixed with the brains of the man they killed. And so they were able to rescue one of each pair, to whom they said, "Hide yourself away in the plains and mountains, far from the towns." In this way they saved thirty victims a month, and when there were two hundred of them the cooks secretly gave them goats and sheep, and showed them a deserted area where they could live. The Kurds, who never settle in towns, are descended from these men.