I’ve been doing so much reading that I think it’s actually time to take a break and play video games for the rest of the month; truly, I’ve earned it.
Palo Alto by James Franco – Ugh this book. Was it supposed to be ironic and I’m not smart enough to see it? I do have a degree in literature…if the purpose was to make me feel sick and depressed, well mission accomplished. Palo Alto is a compilation of stories told first person by different, but connected, characters in California. Privileged, self-service, sociopathic characters who do nothing but meander through their teen years with no remorse or empathy or even intelligence. Is James Franco making a dig at this part of California? That it has become so soulless that every person who lives there is a worthless sack of shit? Even though each person was different, the voice never changed. Was he saying that everyone is equally vapid and voiceless? If this is the case, it just didn’t come across enough for me. Instead it was disturbing, and not in a fun way.
Sackett by Louis L’Amour – After the disaster that was Palo Alto, I needed an easy, romantic read. And since I read almost everything on iBooks, it was also like $2.99. Louis L’Amour wrote a series of books about the Sacketts, but this one focuses on William Tell Sackett, the less attractive but loyal drifter. While crossing through the mountains, he runs across a mine of gold in a hidden valley. There are a couple shoot outs, and a couple man hunts, and a wild young woman. Connect the dots, people, it’s not brain surgery here. But IMHO, Louis L’Amour is a stellar writer. He’s able to paint a picture of working class people and the places they exist in such a romanticized way, much like D.H. Lawrence, but in the American west. If you’re bored and you need a read, these are good stand alones.
Teacher Voice by Russ Qualia and Lisa Lande – I’m so so so so sooooo lucky to receive free books in the mail by Corwin on a regular basis. Most of them I don’t sit and read all at once; I mark chapters and come back repeatedly – but this one is short, and having seen Russ Quaglia’s hilarious speeches, I wanted to read it right away.
Basically, this is a follow up to his earlier book, Student Voice, that I SERIOUSLY recommend if you are a school administrator. Teacher Voice is a great compliment to SV and gives specific research for how little teachers feel heard, as well as specific strategies to tap into the true voice of teachers to improve school climate and student achievement. It’s a short but powerful read – and if I were a principal I would be immediately employing ideas from the book. Just sayin.
Father Yod of the Source Brotherhood by Isis Aquarius – I have been forever intrigued by The Source Family and have been trying to find more literature on this fascinating cult. When I saw this graphic novel, I was initially excited, until page two when I realized it’s total propaganda by one of it’s still clinging members, and it’s art is terrible.
Don’t know about Father Yod? He might be the original hipster. He started the first vegetarian restaurant where super famous celebrities chowed down (like Lennon and Brando), all the while funding and recruiting a cult of 100+ hippies in the Hollywood Hills. He had many, many wives and practiced some pretty gnarly black magic. At some point, he relocated them to Hawaii and then had a vision that he should go hang-gliding on a cliff (with no experience) – to which he fell and broke his body. Instead of calling an ambulance, his peeps huddled around him until he died. Some of the members freaked out and left, but many stayed and considered it the ultimate move of his “god-like” status, and some even copied the hang-gliding (ending with the same fate). And here you have Isis Aquarius publishing a terrible comic book about him forty years later. Which begs the question, is this where Don Draper was retreating during the last episodes of Mad Men?
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – Well, here’s a book that sets women back a good 100 years. SPOILER ALERT: Every woman is a hysterical, selfish, dysfunctional, adulterating mess who isn’t fit to be a mother and can’t possibly make any decisions without a man. At first, I was intrigued by the concept: a
woman girl who rides the train everyday imagines the lives of the people she sees regularly from the window. But pretty soon you’ve got a murder mystery on your hands, with a lot of obvious “whodunnit” clues and then in the end a real Matlock style confession from the murderer. And your protagonist is an emotional disaster, made obvious to us because she’s overweight and unattractive to men, but when she was emotionally stable she was attractive to men. THANK YOU FOR THAT PATRIARCHAL SUBTEXT. Within 2/3 of the way through the book, I basically just wanted everyone to get hit by the train and be done with it. I was offended that every single woman were useless, pathetic, and ineffective females. Even those with bit parts, where the cop was willing to overlook evidence based on a female mean-girl attitude, or the well-intentioned roommate who had zero backbone. The men were all misogynist assholes who preyed on women (physically and emotionally), but were mostly given a pass. I can’t complain about this book enough. Will I see the movie? Maybe after a bottle of wine, because, you know, that’s the only way to handle problems.
ANYWAY, go check out more on Father Yod and The Source. If you can figure out how I can join them for a weekend retreat, let me know 😛