Thursday, July 27, 2006

Haahnster Reads 2 Books From The '90s!

Let me begin by saying I haven’t read many books that were published after 1975. In fact, many of my favorites were published before 1955. Not trying to be snobbish, I’m just a 'classic lit' kind of guy. Dostoyevsky (I keep seeing “Dostoevsky.” But, most of my old, used paperback copies of his works have the “y” in there.) is probably my favorite author. However, I went through a really heavy Hermann Hesse phase, and an extended J.D. Salinger phase. Hell, a friend and I even hit up a couple of university libraries, digging through the periodical archives for as many of Salinger’s stories as we could find that had never been collected and republished.

I loved Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, and Nabokov’s Lolita and Pale Fire. To me, “recent” books are Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, and Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I have neither the time nor the inclination to keep up with modern literature. I still have plenty of classics left to read. However, I receive books as gifts. They are usually more recent publications than I would otherwise purchase, which is cool. Sometimes, I think they are pretty good literature (e.g., Don DeLillo, Nicholson Baker). Other times, they feel like “fluff.” But, my love for reading takes over, and I get enough enjoyment to call these books guilty pleasures. Here are two examples:

John Grisham's The Firm
This was a gift from my mother, right after it was released in paperback. It was actually Grisham's second book. But, his first, A Time to Kill, didn't sell initially. I enjoyed reading The Firm. Now, when I saw the movie...not so good. I think I can sum it up this way: I found Tom Cruise very believable as a hotshot Navy lawyer in A Few Good Men; I did not find him believable as a top-of-his-class genius in The Firm. Maybe it was just me.

Robert James Waller's The Bridges of Madison County
Once again, I received this as a gift. This time it was still in hardback, just a few weeks after it was unleashed upon the world. I've never watched the Clint Eastwood movie version, preferring not to revisit the fact that I enjoyed reading this book. I must be a romantic softy at heart (or somewhere way down deep).


Blogger Beth said...

I've read both of those, too, and about at the same timeframe. The Firm was pretty good; I liked the idea of a mafia-run firm. And The Bridges of Madison County was a good story for hopeless romantics such as you and I.

But I'm more impressed with your Salinger hunt. Are you a big Pynchon fan? If so, are you counting down the weeks to the December release of Against the Day?

(I haven't figured out how to embed links in comments, like Dale can do.)

7:42 AM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

I've never read any Pynchon. I've seen his books at bookstores, and been interested, but never followed through. I probably skewed a bit too modern with the examples of favorite authors I listed. I've always tended to read older stuff more, and a mixture of literature, philosophy and world religion (Nietzsche, Voltaire, Marquis de Sade, Machiavelli, Tao Te Ching, The Bhagavadgita, etc.)

The Salinger search was quite excellent. I have a rather impressive stack of photocopies from Collier's, The Saturday Evening Post, etc. Maybe I should start posting some of those short stories here on HH...see if I can get some attention from his lawyers!

8:43 AM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger Old Lady said...

My guilty pleasure is Stephen King novels.

The only thing I dodn't like about Nietzsche is that he whines incessantly. But you are correct about the classics. They are excellent, enduring and timeless.

8:55 AM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

Nietzsche bitched a lot. In his defense, however, he did lead a fairly miserable existence, filled with isolation, near-blindness, bouts of illness, and ultimately madness.

LOVE that moustache, though. Wow! He developed quite the 'handlebar' as time went on.

9:07 AM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger Marni said...

Love Stephen King myself! I also enjoy the letter series from Sue Grafton - Kinsey Milhone rocks!

My favorite thing to do is go to B&N and browse the sale tables. If the cover looks interesting I'll pick it up. I have found some of the best books that way.

9:41 AM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger Keith Kennedy said...

Hunter S. Thompson is the bestest writer of our times and if you haven't delved into his prose, you owe it to youself to go out and buy "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" this afternoon.

But don't read it in bed because your wife will kill you since the bed will be shaking uncontrolably from the laughter coming from you. The more you try to surpress the laughter, the harder you shake the bed.

10:32 AM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

Marni: That's interesting. I purchased more than a few record albums based solely on cover art, back in the day. I'm not sure I've done that with books, though.

KK: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas gets Haahnster's strongest approval. Hilarious. I would especially think that anyone who enjoyed Kerouac's On the Road would really love Fear and Loathing... It's like Kerouac on serious amounts of hallucinogenics!

12:28 PM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger Beth said...

I heartily endorse both Fear and Loathing and On the Road. Don't think I've ever fallen for a guy who didn't love On the Road; something seems to be missing without it.

12:44 PM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger barista brat said...

the only grisham book i've read is 'the partner' and it was done during lunch breaks because there was nothing else to read in the backroom. so, for a lunchtime novel it was great!

and i saw 'bridges' and really hated the sentiment behind the film. i can never get into stories that somehow excuse/glamorize adultury so i know i will not be reading the book.

glad you enjoyed it, though!

12:47 PM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

Beth: 2 all-time great books, IMHO.

BB: I didn't even remember the adultery angle. It's been a while. I was 24 years old and not even dating anyone seriously at the time. Now, as a married person, perhaps my perspective would be different. I suppose one's attitudes towards those types of things should be based on an internal ethical sense that is unaffected by one's marital status. But, I'm not that "deep," I suppose.

On a different note, I haven't & won't see the movie, mainly because I'm not big into "romance" movies (adulterous or not) at all. Weird, huh?

1:00 PM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

"Beth: 2 all-time great books, IMHO."

Just to clarify, the quotation above was related to Beth's comment in support of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and On the Road.

I said I enjoyed The Firm and The Bridges of Madison County. I would never refer to them as all-time greats.

I don't want things to get too confused around here...

1:04 PM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger KLee said...

See, I couldn't STAND the movie version of "The Firm" simply because I can't suspend my disbelief at Tom Cruise being anything other than the smarmy little dink he is.

The book, on the other hand, was fairly well-written, and I enjoyed that. I read the next five or six of Grisham's works, based on his initial strengths. After the thrid or fourth book, he started believing his own hype -- that he was the next Best Thing to happen to writing, and I lost interest.

Haanster-- if you're into "police/crime" novels, which you don't mention, but is worth throwing out there in case you do -- read Michael Connelly. He has quite a few titles out there, and I have yet to be disappointed with any of his work. They're not overly hard-boiled, as far as the crime element goes, but if you pick one up, I hope you like it. The release that he has on shelves currently is "The Lincoln Lawyer," and I very much enjoyed it.

1:57 PM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

K Lee: I loved reading In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I'm not sure how I'd do with "police/crime" novels that were 100% fiction. However, Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment deals with that type of story; it's just all about the perpetrator's descent into madness. I'd envision "police/crime" being more from the detective's point of view.

My love for Law & Order might translate pretty well...I'll have to check one out.

2:27 PM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger Beth said...

I love everything by Truman Capote. Too bad he drained his creativity with In Cold Blood. Did you catch Capote?

3:21 PM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

I have not seen it yet. I'm guessing Philip Seymour Hoffman just rocks in the title role. That guy is great.

3:32 PM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger Beth said...

I would watch PSHoffman recite the tax code. Be sure to rent it and let me know what you think.

3:54 PM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger Dale said...

The film was excellent and PSHoffman was perfect. Perfect I say. Stop reading old books and start renting almost old films.

7:40 PM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

I rented Capote on the way home from work last night. I'll post about it in the near future.

5:54 AM, July 28, 2006  

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