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Posts Tagged ‘Mitch Albom’

Book XVIII is Tuesdays with Murray, by  Mitch Albom, 1997: 192 pages

“Once you learn how to die you learn how to live”.  Like I said I have been blowing through books lately and at times have not even had chance to write about what I am reading when I am reading it.  Tuesdays with Murray is not a book I would normally pick up.  For one thing it is late 20th century American Literature where I am more of a fan of 17th-19th classics  and mainly British Literature.  An anonymous person, maybe a guardian angel even,  had sent it to me in the mail.  As I said in an earlier blog if someone is going to go through all the trouble to send me a book and even fold pages in it they thought were important for me to grasp, finally inscribing the cover, well then I certainly will not ignore.  To my mysterious benefactor I thank you for your kindness.  I found the text to be very heart warming and I think I am pretty sure I get the point you were trying to make.  Its nice to know that someone out there cares enough about me to take an interest in helping me get back on track with my life.

Since reading this book I am making a serious effort to control my excessive drinking habits. I am far from there yet but you know what I am taking baby steps towards something.  I am really trying to love myself.  A good friend told me after Adrienne and I split up “how could you have ever expected to love anyone when you don’t even know how to love yourself”.  This is a really hard one for me.  I have spent the better portion of my life thriving in self loathing.  I know that seems like an oxymoron cause my ego and arrogance are so prevalent.  I assume I use them as an easy defense mechanism to hide my rampant low self esteem, awkwardness and insecurities.

Albom wrote this thing about self pity “I thought of all the people I knew who spent many of their waking hours feeling sorry for themselves.  How useful it would have been to put a daily limit on self-pity.  Just a few tearful minutes and on with the day”.  Honestly I really try and do this.  I only give myself very short windows of self-pity when it comes on then I shake it off and get “on with my day”, my life for that matter.  I am still pretty lost in life at the moment, but at least I know where I have been, where I don’t want to be and where I do not want to return.

This book is about a beautiful man on his last months of life and his seemingly simple yet ingenious realizations that I feel many of us forsake never to realize the errors of our ways till it is too late.  One thing I really have to give Tuesdays with Murray credit for is that I was about to take this Sous Chef job at a new restaurant downtown.  They had offered me a substantial raise, and a chance to really spread my wings as a chef.  The hours and hardships were to be long and hard.  At the moment I really love my job and everyone I work with.  Next to surfing it is the second happiest place I spend my time at.  Sure I am not making very much money, but if I made more I would just spend more and my situation would still be same.  One thing I can say with the utmost certainty all the wonderful people in my life love me for me and not my money and that my friends is priceless.

Tuesdays with Murray is good beach reading.  It’s written at a very philistine level.  At first I was put off by such.  Being a Literature snob and all I like to be challenged with my reading.   Maybe Albom wrote it that way so it could be enjoyed and learned from by the masses.  Its with out a doubt worth picking up.

Book IXX: The Call of the Wild, Jack London, 1905: 176 pages

“Mercy didn’t exist in the primordial life, It was misunderstood for fear, and such misunderstandings made for death.  Kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, was the law; and this mandate down out of the depths of time he obeyed”. What a book my friends.  I was at the Ventura swap last fall with Kooky Kyle looking through a pile of junk marked “Everything $1” for something hideous to buy Mauriello for his Birthday when I came across this book.  Kooky found some piece of trash he wanted so we bargained with the guy to get the whole lot for a buck.  Since he was some toothless meth head who probably found all that stuff in the trash anyway he complied.

I finally got a chance to sit down and read it, a book that supposedly people have read by 8th grade.  I am glad I didn’t cause I would have missed so much.  In 8th grade I would have thought it nothing more then a story about a dog instead of a struggle for survival and acceptance.  Basic plot is a Southern Californian pet dog circa late 1890’s is kidnapped and sent up to Alaska to be used as a sled dog for gold rushers.  The book outlines his trials and tribulations with such.  After reading the previous book it was very refreshing to read really good writing. I laughed, I cried and in the end held my head up high.  Read it I promise it is better then anything on the boob tube.

I read the signet edition which also included short stories Diable-A Dog; An Odyssey of the North; To the Man on Trail; To Build a Fire; Love of Life; all of which I also found riveting. London has found his way into my heart and favorite authors.  I think I am going to move to Alaska, get a sled team and train for the Iditarod.  I already started training by spending more and more time each day in the walk-in freezer at work.  Oh and I forgot to mention Alfie is going to be lead cat…

For our next book lets read some Voltaire and enjoy Zadig for book XX.  Happy reading.

This is going to be me and my dogs some day!!!

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I got home from surfing today and decided to check mail for a change.   I check the mail once a week at best and that is only so I can get my copy of New York Magazine.  Its kind of a real uppity magazine, but I like to read it and imagine what it would be like to have a bunch of money in NYC.  My Dad reads it and sent me a gift subscription, which I think was done with parsimonious intentions to make me miss home.  I must admit it brings a lot of nostalgia to me.

The box was bulging, which meant I most likely have not checked the mail since before I left for New Jersey.  The mail lady always gets pissed whenever this happens.  In response to my utter laziness she takes all my mail wraps it in a rubber band and angrily tosses it on my front door.   I opened the box and was showered with an explosion of mail.

Upon picking all of the mail up off the floor I  noticed a small package in my box addressed to me.  I didn’t order anything on my bread and water budget and was not expecting anything.  There was no return address on the thing.  My first thought was someone sent me a mail bomb, although it looked a bit small and felt too light to contain an explosive device.  My next thought was anthrax, someone sent me anthrax.  Then I thought a little harder about the whole thing and figured who am I that anyone would even care about killing me, let alone going through all the effort to do it via the United States Postal Service.  Unless the mail lady really was completely fed up with my shit.

I went inside and sorted through this mess of circulars, envelopes and Magazines.  While I am at it I think my dyke mail lady is stealing my Play Boy.  The nudity is trash.  I can watch way dirtier shit then that on the internet, but the articles are rather clever and entertaining.  I had trail subscriptions to five different magazines and the only one I found worth my time to read was my Play Boy.  I tossed the usual notices from creditors.  “Hey guys I miss the early morning wake up calls”.  Threw away all the circulars cause they were way out dated.

Then there was the package.  It did not look crazy or anything thus I decided to open it.  Inside was a book.  I am always delighted by a book, at least until I read it.  It so happens that I finished reading The Picture of Dorian Gray last night.  There was no letter with the book or any identification of any kind.  The title: Tuesdays with Morrie.  I opened it and noticed some of the pages were folded.  Inside the cover it was inscribed “Yes, the folded pages are important”, signed A Friend.  I must say I am very excited to sink my teeth into it.  To my mystery benefactor let me thank you in advance for the gift.  Depending on the content my opinion may change.

That brings me to the reason I am writing in the first place.  I have been reading like crazy as of late and not been updating the book club at all.  Shame on me.  So here are the past three books I have recently read and our latest book.

Book XV: 1984, George Orwell, 1949, 297 pages

“War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength”.  This was a re-read for me.  I came across this copy a few months in a box of books I found while stumbling home from the Wild Cat one night.  I remember first reading it back in 8th grade and taking very little from it besides the “Big Brother” reference although not really understanding the meaning behind it.  I needed additional reading material for my trip to Portland at the end of this past August and decided I ought to re-read it.  The problem with reading some of these novels at a young age is one is not at the level of maturity or understanding to fully appreciate the meaning of the book.  Schools pick books for their curriculum based on vocabulary and readability.  I know in 8th grade I missed all of the themes behind 1984.  Also depending on what is happening in one’s life a novel may at times take on a completely different meaning and emotional response.  Here Orwell portrays a futuristic Utopian society based on strong class division, war, fear and power.  Not to mention an interesting and very disturbing profile of human behavior.  I will do a “Chris’ Notes” on this one at some point.  I definitely suggest giving 1984 a read.

Book XVIWays of Seeing, John Berger, 1972, 155 pages
This book was actually handed to me by my co-worker Meat Cat.  She is an artist and devote to art for the love of art.  Art does not pay the bills for most thus forcing her to work at Westmont.  She had been telling me about the text for some time and how most of the ideas proposed for viewing art can also be applied to life in general.  As an observer of life  and a lover of art, I felt compelled to give it a read.  English art critic and author John Berger certainly makes many interesting points about art and how it is looked upon in modern times.  His take on nudes and oil paintings is certainly enough to make the book worth a look, but then he makes some very good points on art and advertising as well.  It is a very dense read and I actually read a few of the chapters twice to get a better grasp on their message.

Book XVII: The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde, 1891, 349 pages

“The common hill-flowers wither, but they blossom again.  The laburnum will be as yellow next June as it is now.  In a month there will be purple stars on the clematis and year after year the green night of its leaves will hold it’s purple stars.  But we never get back our youth.” This was another re-read for me and actually is a novel I read often.  I believe this was about the fourth time I have picked it up.  The story of a young man who mistakenly makes a deal with the devil to stay young forever.  In this tale Wilde comments on the dangers of vanity, cynicism, arrogance, selfishness and conscience.  Sometimes when we get the thing we wished for most in life we find it to be more of a curse then a blessing.  I always pick this book up and read it when I feel I need to check myself and be brought back down to earth.  I must admit it had not helped with my current depressed state.

There you have it folks some new suggested reading for you all.  I am tearing through shit at the moment so expect new entries fairly regularly.  I guess Book XVIII is going to be  Tuesdays with Murray, by  Mitch Albom.  After all if someone decided to go to that much trouble to give me a book they think is a value for me to read then it must be put to the top of the list.  Happy reading.

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