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Recently Read Books

I finished reading Tom Jones about a week ago. It was the second time I read it, although the first time was over thirty years ago when I read it for my senior year English Lit class. I wrote  a paper about it called "How To Square A Thwackum". It was about two characters in the novel, a philosopher named Mr.Square and a clergyman named Mr. Thwackum who are constantly arguing, and usually talking past each other. I'd like to say I picked the topic  because the tension between philosophy and theology is such an intriguing topic. While I certainly find said tension quite interesting, that was not the reason. I picked the topic because the characters had funny names  and I thought that would help me come up with a cool title for my paper.

It took me a month to read it this time. I found myself wondering if I really did read the whole thing back in high school. I can't believe I had the self-discipline and attention span to make it through the 800+ page behemoth when I was a teenager. I barely had it now. I did get through, but I ended up feeling the same way about Tom Jones that Officer Barbrady felt about Atlas Shrugged.

I've read a couple of books since then that have cleansed the palate. One of them is Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone. It didn't quite live up to all the hype I'd heard about it, but once that was discounted it's a pretty good book. It's probably most famous for having a female first-person narrator, but a male author. Most of the women I've talked to have read the book says Lamb does a good job with this, and of course I would defer to their opinion. Lamb is not the only male author who's good at a female POV...Larry McMurtry comes to mind. But Lamb takes it farther, and even if he didn't succeed as well as he did, he deserves credit just for the risk. He does a pretty good job of telling the story of a woman whose life is filled with one tragedy after another.

This weekend I read Sh*t My Dad Says. After two long ponderous tomes, I was ready for a book that was based on a twitter feed. The book is pretty short. It mixes quotes from the web page with some more fleshed-out anecdotes. The stories give the title character a little more depth than just the obnoxious quotes. Not that the obnoxious quotes aren't great. I agree AJ Jacobs when he says the Samuel Halpern (the "dad" of the title) is "up there with Aristotle and Winston F*cking Churchill". (That might be the greatest blurb ever written.)