Sun 29 Apr 2007
Karen kindly tagged me for a post about what I’m currently reading, which means I don’t have to come up with my own idea for today. It’s timely because I just discovered the riches of my local branch of the city library. There are plenty of partly-read books scattered around the house, and I think of them like volocanoes, in varying stages of activity. Here are the most active:
Pellecanos is a gritty Washington D.C. crime writer, and in this book he takes on the period in D.C.’s history leading up to the riots. Having spent a few years living in the neighborhoods that were once destroyed by the riots, I have a strong sense of place as I listen to this book (it’s a book on CD). Old-timers there refer to certain sections of the city as “before the riots” and “after the riots.” The lead character, Derek Strange, is a newly minted cop charged with patrolling his part of town with a white partner. What I enjoy most in this book is the delicate, charged interactions between blacks and whites as some of them try to find new common ground in the Civil Rights movement, while others don’t. What I don’t like is how masculine this book is. There’s a lot of talk of muscles and respect and weapons and cars and “that’s a damn good woman” type of stuff. Can’t relate.
My coworker left this book sitting out on her desk for a few days in plain sight so of course I snagged it to read on lunch breaks. It’s an interesting exploration of the snap judgment and its usefulness and pitfalls, by way of art forgery, marriage, New Coke, and implicit bias.
Just finished this one; historical fiction about a white orphan who grows up among Cherokees as President Jackson makes it his mission to remove them to the far west. I really enjoyed Cold Mountain; this book is a little more diffuse and meandering, but still satisfying. There are lots of good descriptions of food in it, which reveal plenty about class and culture in the mishmash mix of people at the frontier.
The plan was to read a chapter of this book a month and discuss each one with friends. The reality is that I read it in chunks of a few paragraphs at a time, and it seems that my friends have fallen completely off the Volf wagon. Volf is talking about the new community in Christ and how it relates to place, forgiveness, relationships, and identity. Good stuff, but you see why it could take awhile.
On deck: The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama; Prodigal Summer, Barbara Kingsolver; Ordinary Mornings of a Coliseum, Norman Dubie.
If you’re reading one or more books at the moment, consider yourself tagged.