Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Literacy Korner

Ok, time to catch up on this, too. And then maybe -- maybe -- I'll write about something else.

#74 -- "With Their Backs to the World" by Åsne Seierstad
#75 -- "The Miss Stone Affair" by Teresa Carpenter
#76 -- "Moneyball" by Michael Lewis
#77 -- "The Colorado Kid" by Stephen King

Just when I think that I've read all the books about the Balkans -- all of 'em! -- something comes along and proves me wrong. The Seierstad book is a series of interviews with Serbs that she's known over the years. Making it fascinating, she spoke to the same people at the same crucial milestones over the years. After the Kosovo war, around the fall of Milosevic, after the assassination of Djindjic. Everyone's represented from all along the social and political spectrum. Seierstad is involved with all these stories (she's speaking with the people and spending time with them, after all) but she isn't an intrusive presence. Another excellent Balkans book.

"Miss Stone" is a Balkans book as well -- the story of the little-known (well, perhaps. I didn't know about it) 1901 of an American missionary and a friend in the Bulgaria/Macedonia region. There's not a lot of suspense as to the hostages' fate, but there's some interesting information on the era in here.

"Moneyball" -- years ago, back when this was kind of/technically a hockey blog (and kind of/technically something I updated more than once a week), one of my very very favorite blogs was Fire Joe Morgan. It's dead now but I still go back to the archives for cheer in dark moments. FJM was kind of a backlash to the backlash against "Moneyball," so it's kind of sad that I'm just getting around to reading this now. (I blame a lack of interest in baseball since the mid-'90s, and a general and stupid aversion to bestsellers.) So, speaking as the last person on earth to read this -- it's great. It's not just a book on baseball -- it's more a book on finding alternatives to traditional methods and finding new ways to make decisions. Read it just about straight through and it gets an A+.

"The Colorado Kid" -- I haven't read a new King novel since the 1990s (last I finished were the horrendous "Regulators"/"Desperation" duo -- since then I've tried to get into "Bag of Bones" and "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon," and a couple others sit on my shelf). This was a nice quick diversion, less than 200 pages. It's part of the Hard Case Crime pulp series, but it's neither hard nor pulp. Kind of a relaxed, quiet mystery. Something that's not often noted about King: the guy's got a real gift for writing about the natural beauties of Maine (never been there, so I'm taking his word for it). Again, pleasant and a really zippy read. I kind of wished for a bit more, but who am I to be so greedy?

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