I'm writing this with spikes of pain shooting up from my jaw, through my brain, out the top of my head, presumably dissipating somewhere in the stratosphere. Thanks in part to a rather hands-off approach to oral maintenance (my last dentist died nearly two years ago, and I only found out this month) an old root canal has gone bad and now I'm facing the prospect of rather more invasive surgery. Hooray. It's the perfect cap to this year, which started with such promise but then went badly awry. I usually like my metaphors less painful than this, though.
I haven't been updating this because really, there's one post that's just repeating over and over in my head: I don't like what I'm doing, I need to do something different, I'm afraid to make the jump. That little circle. I know (more or less) what I need to do -- now I just need to find the strength. Stupid, obvious patterns: as a kid, I was afraid to go off the diving board or do the abseiling exercises in gym class - until, finally, my hand was forced. And then I had fun.
Really plain lessons, you'd think, but apparently they haven't taken.
Anyway: Merry Christmas!
#57: "Freakonomics" by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt
#58: "Men of Tomorrow" by Gerard Jones
#59: "A Nervous Splendor" by Frederic Norton
"Freakonomics" -- I've been wanting to develop some basic economic knowledge beyond an Econ 101 class nearly two decades ago, and two people I respect told me to check this out. (thanks to my usual abhorrence of bestsellers, of course, I NEEDED to be told to check it out.) It's great fun -- we'll see if I picked anything up from it if/when I continue my ad-libbed economic education.
"Men of Tomorrow" -- Jones is great as a comics historian, and after a slow start, this chronicle of the early days of the comic book industry is fantastic. It's also very, very even-handed -- the treatment of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster is sort of the centerpiece of the book, and Jones is fair and calm in assessing it. Nice work.
"A Nervous Splendor" -- Vienna over the course of the winter of 1888-1889, when modernization was showing signs of leaving Austria-Hungary behind, and the one man who perhaps could have helped it along first was marginalized and then committed suicide. Marvelously written, made me really glad that I didn't live in late 19th century Vienna.