Book Corner 2019.26

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The Way We Eat Now by Bee Wilson

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An extended rant on everything you could possibly find wrong with, well, the way we eat now.

I didn’t really learn anything, except a lot of Britishisms. “Clingfilm” for plastic wrap. “Veg” for vegetables – much preferable to the babyish “veggies” we say in this country.

But anyway, lack of balance really bothered me, more in the beginning of the book than the end. For example, passing rants about increasing alcohol consumption – but a broad swipe like that has no meaning; alcohol consumption has to be the most varied of all food & drink intake habits across time and culture. There are cultures where alcohol has no traditional basis and was never heard of centuries ago; there are cultures where wine is a daily drink. There are American subcultures who are teetotalers; while colonial America was apparently drunk on hard liquor throughout the days of the founding fathers. There’s no mention of any of this.

It got more enjoyable and balanced towards the end. For example, she’s actually tried and liked meal kits, so instead of rants, they get a balanced treatment. She’s better when talking about her direct experience than when presenting history.

Thoughts About Parallel Lives & Second-Guessing

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Second-guessing and doubt and guilt arise when you think, “I shoulda” or “I shouldn’ta”.

Shoulda shoulda shoulda…

Shoulda done this instead of that.

Shoulda gone somewhere else.

Shoulda stayed home.

Shoulda done something productive.

But if you think of the gazillion parallel lives that branch out from every moment…  your path forward is like a set of dominoes falling straight ahead.  But from either side of you, at every moment, you flip another domino, and another series of dominoes falls off to the side.

Surely of those gazillion parallel lives, some would be better, by any objective criteria, than the one you’re in.  Some would be worse.

What sense does it make to regret even one of those gazillion paths not taken?  When there are simultaneously a gazillion better paths and a gazillion worse paths?  A true infinity of a variety of paths.

 

Book Corner 2019.25

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Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

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Noah is a comedian, and sometimes drops a one-liner or story that’s a little jokey, or even very jokey.  I thought the story about Hitler was LOL.  But it’s not a comic book.

Noah is not a writer, so it’s not a literary, gripping, flowing book.

Noah is not THE GLASS CASTLE, so it’s not “OMG how I survived my crazy childhood”.  There is racism and domestic abuse out the wazoo and worm-eating poverty.  But it’s not a shock book.

Ultimately it is a story: the story of his mother.  Noah knows what material he’s got, and that his mother’s story is the Big Story in his life, and he tells it simply and effectively.

Book Corner 2019.24.holy.shit

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We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

We need to talk about Kevin.

Right now.

This novel consumed me.  In a way, my daily world revolved around that hour or so per night I could get back to the story.  Some nights the Disturbing factor was off the charts and I felt uneasy; most nights I just left the book in rapt admiration at how each chapter ending left me dying to know how it would reach its inevitable violent climax.

I didn’t even care about the secondary questions, like “Why does she stay in this marriage!?” and “Isn’t Franklin drawn as just a little TOO much of a jerk?  Why does she love him again?”  The mother-son relationship mattered too much to care about the realism or frustration in the other relationships.

LOVED the conclusion.  No spoilers.