Thursday, September 30, 2010

Three for a broken leg

A friend of mine who was invited to a social gathering informed me he would be unable to attend on account of a broken leg. Fair enough. The next week I received a text from him talking about a scene in a film he was watching. I wrote back "Playing hooky today." He quickly advised that the situation with his leg was so severe that he had been out of work for three weeks and that he had to keep his leg up to promote healing. Ouch. We texted more, me asking if he had had his fill of the internet, movies and books. After being assured that he was I offered to recommend some books. He eagerly accepted and the next day I dropped a few of my favorites off and spent my lunch break catching up.
Here are my three selections.

Swan Song by Robert McCammon
A sprawling, post-apocalyptic sci-fi epic. The nukes fall and the survivors must fight to stay alive against roving bands of opposing armies bent on destruction. At the center, a bag lady and a young girl who may hold the key to civilization's salvation.
Fantastic and quick read, despite being close to a thousand pages in length. Hooks you and won't let go. Written by a resident of Hoover Alabama.

Something Wicked This Way Comes- Ray Bradbury
Written in 1962 and titled after a Shakespeare line, this was my childhood introduction to the world of horror. Not through the book but the 1983 Disney film for which Bradbury wrote the screenplay. Extremely tame by today's standards, the film scared the crap out of me as a child. I wasn't even aware of the book until much later. Ever since my first read, the supernatural coming of age story has become one of my favorites. I read it at least once a year. The themes are very adult but masked in away that a young reader can enjoy the text without being overwhelmed by deeper meaning.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance- Robert M. Pirsig
Less about motorcycles and more about life in the modern world, this book is even more important than when it was released in 1974. With the declining quality of goods and services, I wish this book were on more people's shelves. The person who first lent me this book knew nothing about motorcycles so I guessed there was much more to it than just fixing and riding bikes. Set against the backdrop of a back-roads cross country motorcycle trip by a father and his young son, the book questions the meaning of quality and our approach to handling life events. Eventually, the narrator's quest takes him backwards to a time in which his pursuits drove him to the brink of insanity. He comes dangerously close to his past and the man he used to be. This book is deep and every time I read it, I find myself needing to go back and reread passages to make sure I got them.
My first experience with this book was also at a very strange time in my life where I was very alone and on a 6 month media blackout. I t was the right thing at the right time. Read this and Walden in the same month and you can't help but question your life.

I hope my friend is on his way to a full recovery, despite the fact that his employer has ordered him off his feet for two more weeks. Best wishes buddy.

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