July 29, 2003

Two Book Reviews

The La Cucaracha Ice Cream Man is making his second circuit of the neighborhood. The Fur Elise guy came through about a half an hour ago (also his second circuit). I can't believe my neighborhood really supports that many Ice Cream Men. There's a major construction project a block North of us (one of Scout's favorite sniffing places!) and I suspect that the construction workers are contributing to the Ice Cream Man phenomenon.

Well, after two blissful quiet mornings, the neighbors are back at it again. The problem is that around 8:30 they let all 14 kids outside to run free, free, free. This morning, in addition to the insipid album (the weird Hokey Pokey one), they were bouncing balls, and playing something that sounded like a bongo drum or an overturned bucket being used as a drum. In addition to the noise, they've also revived their habit of parking their giant Suburban in front of our house, forcing Kevin to park elsewhere on the block, while leaving their own driveway completely free and clear of cars. They have a defunct, oil-leaking minivan in the spot in front of their house, so obviously they can't park there. Our house is the next logical place, right? I have to say that if we are still around for the hearing to determine whether they can change into a 30 child facility, they'll be hearing from us.

But enough complaining. I've also been reading. And I realized I'm a little behind on my book reviews so I have two for today. The first book is Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand (who was interviewed on Fresh Air today). Seabiscuit was an exciting, fast-paced biography of Seabiscuit the racehorse as well as an introduction into the world of thoroughbred racing. The story follows Seabiscuit's owner, trainer, and primary jockey and outlines his career. It was interesting and a great insider's look--I learned a lot. The only problem I had with the book was the author's repeated use of superlatives. For example, "it was the largest crowd in North American racing history" and "it was the largest crowd in North American racing history" and "it was the largest crowd in North American racing history" for three consecutive races. Now while this may be true, it kind of loses its impact when repeated. Don't quote me on this example, it's not a direct quote from the book. But you get the idea.

Seabiscuit is also, as the book cover points out, a Major Motion Picture. I haven't seen the movie yet but intend to--if not on the big screen then on DVD. What cracks me up is the use of the term "motion picture." As if anyone calls them that anymore. But somehow the phrase "Now a Major Movie" just doesn't sound as good on a book jacket.

The book I just finished today is Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. This book is a memoir of Burroughs' bizarre childhood at the hands of a mentally ill mother who signs over legal guardianship of her son to her unorthodox psychiatrist. A funny story, it has been compared to the work of David Sedaris, though I think Sedaris is better. Scissors was a quick and entertaining read with unbelievably strange characters and an equally strange environment. I recommend it for a light, funny read.

Posted by Shelby at July 29, 2003 04:53 PM