Friday, August 19, 2011

Our Week of Reading! Vol. 2!

You're probably amazed that such a rag-tag team of go-getters/gad-about-towns even get time to read! And yet four of our stalwart readers managed to squeeze some literature in, even though two of those are mostly pictures.

If you'd like to see what the well-read, well-spoken, and elegantly presented Fruitless Pursuits staff were reading this week, then you need look no further than past the jump! (Contains one slightly NSFWish cover, but relax! It's the weekend):


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
While tucked up sick in bed at the end of last week, I made it my mission to tackle Jane Eyre. I couldn't bring myself to watch the latest movie without having first read the book, so it was time for a marathon reading session. For the uninitiated, Jane Eyre tells the story of a young girl who has drawn the short straw in most aspects of her life. As you are continually reminded, she is very small and plain. Her parents are dead, so she gets sent to live with her evil aunt and jerky cousins at their super posh mansion. Eventually the evil aunt gets sick of her and sends her off to school at Lowood where the living is better, but 'better' in the way that having someone wee on you is BETTER than having someone poo on you. So...not that much better at all. Once she's old enough she takes a job at Thornfield as the governess to the resident French bastard. She's finally happy! She doesn't know how to deal with it! Will it last? SPOILERS. No, it all turns to hell. But it's a good read.

I have no problem admitting I haven't cried this much while reading a book since Marley & Me. Jane is awesome, and Rochester is awesome, and together they are SUPERAWESOME, but when things take a sharp turn downhill it's quite heart-wrenching. The book has such extremes of emotion that it's impossible to be numb to it. It's quite a contrast from the la-di-da of Austen novels that I'm used to, but I can say without doubt it's now my favourite book of that 'type'. The first third of the story where Jane is at Gateshead and Lowood drags a bit & is all very dreary, but once you get through that it's all systems go.

I will be doing a more detailed review of the book and the movie in the future, so stay tuned. In short: it's pretty great.


Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive The Bus by Mo Willems
There are two reasons that this book is awesome. Firstly it’s written by Mo Willems, a longtime writer for Sesame Street, which in itself is a sterling recommendation. He’s also a wonderfully spare and lively illustrator, and one of those wonderful artists who can say so much in two or three lines. And blessedly he’s a writer who doesn’t talk down to his very young audience, resulting on a book that feels like it’s letting you in on the joke but making the child very much the target.

The other reason is that it’s essentially a comic. All dialogue is spoken by characters in speech bubbles and he’s essentially done a comic and blown up each panel to make it a page. It means you need to get wacky if you’re reading it to a child. You have to embrace the Pigeon. BECOME the Pigeon. Because it’s going to be an exceedingly strange read if you try and narrate.

Here’s the gist: the busdriver needs to duck out for a while. He asks you to make sure the pigeon doesn’t drive the bus. The pigeon then does his utmost to convince you to let him drive the bus. And – that’s it. But it’s enough. And it’s genuinely funny and sweet. This book spawned a whole lot of “Pigeon” books – Don’t let the Pigeon stay up Late, Don’t let the Pigeon have a Hot Dog and The Pigeon wants a Puppy! amongst others. But this is always going to be the purest form of Willems style for me and it’s damn fine.


The Big Book of Breasts 3D by Dian Hanson
Granted this book doesn't have a lot of text, but that doesn't mean that you can't take your time with it. Collected by Dian Hanson, this is a black and white collection of full page photographs of retro big breast models. It's far more quirky and kitsch than brazenly erotic but that's not to say it's not completely-in-your-face! This one-two punch is thanks to the 3D gimmick, which works surprisingly well. Now, this isn't James Cameron's Avatar - you'll be wearing the included old skool red and blue 3D glasses, but this doesn't look like a cut-out pop-up book either. The process has achieved an amazing level of depth and is at times quite realistic, so prepare to be assaulted by the infeasibly huge.

Yes, I know a book like this is exploitative by nature, but it reaches back to a classic time when everyone was so bubbly and buoyant beneath their bouffants that its hard not to muster a smile. It's softcore, slickly produced and really at times quite charming. I received as a birthday gift from our very own Jacinta, who I'm sure will be appreciative of me throwing her under the bus! But remember - it's released by the artsy folk at Taschen, and it is impossible for it to be sexist if it was compiled by a woman, and a woman gave it to me! (Yes, yes... I'll see you in the comments section).


Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving.
I recently finished reading Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving. It's a tale about the life of a fictional writer named Daniel Baciagalupo, taking us through his childhood in a New England logging camp through various misadventures and locations until he is well into his 60's. The novel is ostensibly a fugitive novel, as Danny's father pisses off the wrong guy in the aforementioned logging camp and they have to go into hiding for most of the young writer's life. Looking deeper, it becomes more of a study of the relationship between fathers and sons, as other characters come and go but the two Baciagalupo men stick together throughout. At the end of the day, like most Irving novels, this one speaks most of human relationships and the isolation I think we all feel to some extent. 

Sine this is a John Irving novel, it has all the things you may have come to expect. Incest, murder, intrigue, tragedy, comedy, maiming and a bear. Wickedly funny in parts and tear-jerkingly tender in others. Mr. Irving is an amazing wordsmith. If you can stomach the darker side of life, I recommend this and anything else he's ever written. Learn more about John Irving's life and work at his official web site.


  1. Im going to look forward to this segment. yays bookreadins!

  2. John Irving is probably my favourite author but I could not get into Last Night In Twisted River. I keep meaning to give it another go, but I can't seem to summon the energy. :-(

  3. it's no "Hotel New Hampshire" but it's pretty good. You do need a Loooong attention span though. How often do you follow a character for over 50 years in a novel? crazy...