I'm beginning to get somewhat depressed at the thought that I actually might not make my 50-book goal for the year. For god's sake, I'm a professional writer! Shouldn't I be able to polish off a book a week? I blame two things, primarily. The first is my three-year-old son, who has decided that 5:30 AM is an acceptable time to wake up. After one has lain on the couch and watched the horrors of predawn children's TV and has prepared a dish of "noodles with eggs" (his choice) for a toddler's breakfast, the last thing one wants to do is dig into a 500-page Rick Moody novel that satirizes the world of documentary film. Not that The Diviners is at the top of the pile, necessarily, but you know what I mean.
The other major excuse is Netflix. I'm so tired by 8 PM that I really only want to watch movies. And I'm not talking the Red-Blue-White trilogy. I'm talking The Longest Yard/Guess Who/Sahara bad mainstream Hollywood movies that no one liked. I don't like them either, but I need my brain to melt out my skull. There are three Netflix atop the TV. Two are usually pretty good and one is horrible. The other night my wife and I popped Million Dollar Baby into the player and that lasted about ten minutes; we quit when Morgan Freeman started narrating a scene that he was in. I hate voiceover narration, so we ejected and substituted Shaolin Soccer. Now that was a movie: Simultaneously a great parody of every shaggy-dog sports flick ever made while still being a great example of one of those flicks, plus kung fu. Living in Austin has caused me to change my aesthetic, and I now treasure movies like Shaolin Soccer and Shaun Of The Dead, though nothing will ever beat Mildred Pierce for me. How different a world would this be if Shaolin Soccer had won the Oscar and Million Dollar Baby had never been greenlit? I guess we'll never know.
Actually, now that I'm blog-rambling, The Office last night had some hilarious "desert-island movies" jokes. So here are mine: Airplane!, Top Secret, The Untouchables, Dazed And Confused, Mildred Pierce. I really would prefer a top 10, so I don't have to have 40 percent Zucker brothers for the rest of my life. So the second five: The Big Red One, Young Frankenstein, Casino, The Naked Gun, and Lawrence Of Arabia. All right, so that's still 33-percent Zucker Brothers. Will extend to a top 20 upon request.
So where was I going with all this? Oh, yes. There is a third reason why I haven't been reading a lot, and that is rotisserie baseball, but that is over now, praise Allah, and it's not like basketball is going to replace it in my estimation now that Amare Stoudemire has had microfracture surgery on his knee and will be out for four months. By that time, Raja Bell will be leading the Suns in scoring and the team will be in fourth place in the Pacific Division. We had one glorious season where we flew too close to the sun. And now it's over. I'm numb at the thought.
Finally, I have actually finished book number 42. I pulled it off the shelves of the secret loft where I've been working lately. It's Julian, the 1962 novel by Gore Vidal about a philosopher-king's attempt to restore the ancient Greek gods to the pantheon. The book covers the final years before the darkness of Christian ignorance spread across the earth. It's a tragic story, but also a great celebration of pagan virtues. I also enjoyed the court intrigue, particularly because we are going through our own court intrigue right now in Washington, as the retinue of our stupidest emperor is eating itself alive. The fruits of internecine incompetence are ripening. As for Julian, the scenes right before and right after he becomes Caesar are some of the finest ever in an American-written novel. As far as historical fiction goes, there is Gore Vidal, and then there is everyone else. I may have written an entire book making fun of him, but there are few writers I hold in higher esteem.
May Apollo give me the strength to read eight books between now and January 1.