Thursday, December 21, 2006

Officially Missing Snow

Hey, I reserve the right to change course at any time. My Dad sent some pics from shoveling the driveway, and it looked beautiful -- then I saw Tapeleg's post here and was reminded just how visually stunning snow can be. So allow me to amend what I've had to say: I miss snow like you wouldn't believe, though I'm just fine avoiding the shoveling and the driving. If I could sit by a window with, say, a Fat Tire beer, and look out at the views I'm seeing in those photos -- I'd be a happy and contented man.

Head back Sunday, and I'm assured there'll be plenty of snow still there. Let's hope. In the meantime, I'll try to concentrate on work, watch the Thrashers try to hold on against the Winnipeg Penguins, and ponder New Year's resolutions (seriously - and as you may guess, I suck at keeping them. This year's will be "eat healthier" -- I presume by the end of February I will have developed a french fry-only diet).

And I still read. Yes, I read.

#44 -- "Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese" by Patrick Leigh Fermor

I've raved, and raved again, about Fermor, and guess what -- a third rave.

I know little about modern Greece -- my interest in the peninsula ends at the Albanian border -- but like all Fermor's work, this makes me want to walk in his footsteps. It's an appealing ramble through the tiny towns of the region, drinking tons of wine, hiking, and going off on diversions and theorizing about Greek history. Good God, the man is educated. He'll take off on a tangent about the possible offspring of the last Byzantine emperor, or the appeals of different kinds of Orthodox ikons, and writes it so naturally that you'd swear he just was going from memory. (Perhaps he was.) At times it's exhausting, and I'm astounded at the man's capacity for information. He wrote another one about northern Greece, "Roumeli," also recently brought back into print by the good people at the New York Review of Books, which I'm itching to read -- but I'll wait a while. I need to read something that doesn't strain the boundaries of my knowledge quite so much.

I had a discussion about this book diary the other day (seriously -- and no, it wasn't a discussion with myself) and some of the rather arbitrary rules. Specifically, the rule banning highbrow comics (Maus, Persepolis, Sandman) from counting. I was told that it makes me a book snob. I beg to differ (and if I did include those, I'd be over 50 already) -- I appreciate the art in all of these, and consider all of them bigger achievements than most novels. The best response I can give is that the comics, no matter how complex, require less of a time commitment than even the simplest word-centric book. And, also, dammit, I make my own rules.

All that said, I re-read "Maus II" at the exhortation of the Ski Bum yesterday, and was blown away. I've read the original volume a dozen times over the years, but this one only once before (and probably a decade ago). I tend to forget just how powerful Spiegelman's work is, so this was a bracing shock to the system. Even now, trying to describe it seems to cheapen it -- "a tale about the Holocaust and family using mice as characters" is woefully inadequate. It's just amazing -- go read it.

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