Friday, October 17, 2008

A Little Misery, a Couple Movies, and a Few Good Books

So I haven't posted anything lately. And I haven't gotten around to commenting at other blogs either. I got sick, something that never happens to me. Okay, rarely happens to me.

Last week I was sort of under the weather, just didn't feel like doing much. But Saturday I felt baaaaahhd. So I dragged myself to the walk-in clinic where the doctor said, "Strep throat." I started the antibiotics that afternoon, woke up even worse on Sunday, and barely made it to my classes Monday morning! Strange thing is, it's nearly a week later and I'm not that much better today. A little more time, I guess. (sniffle)

Anyway, on my down days, I watched What's Eating Gilbert Grape and American Gangster. I had read all kinds of good things about Gilbert but had never seen it. I had already seen Gangster when it was in the theaters. I'd put both of them in, say, my top 150. You too?

I've also spent a good bit of time reading lately. Until recently, I haven't been much into fiction. But I really liked The Street Lawyer by John Grisham (a Michele recommendation). So last week I got a copy of A Painted House, one of the few things by Grisham that isn't set in the legal world. The earlier book was better, I thought. But even when this guy's not at his best, he's a very good writer. Any Grisham fans out there who can mentor this newbie? Which ones are the very best?

Speaking of the best, I really loved almost everything included in The Best Christian Writing of 2006. It includes a free-and-fresh translation of a Christmas sermon by Augustine, an interview with Eugene Peterson about "spirituality," and Michael Foley's theologically-astute discussion of the movie "Groundhog Day." If you pick this book up, be sure to read the "Introduction" by Mark Noll. It's a gem too.

I have to say, I really like these best-of anthologies. I mean, why constantly wade through mostly junk? I already do enough of that in the Blogosphere. Evidently so do you.

Oh, on the culture front, I re-read All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christians and Popular Culture, by Kenneth A. Myers. If you're feeling pretty good about American culture these days, reading this book will balance you out. On the other hand, if you're sort of down on all things American right now and you are easily depressed, then stay away from this one. It's a fine book, I must say; one that I'm glad I went back to as I'm thinking about this thing called culture.

So that's the book-and-movie report from my week or so of languishing. Seen or read or heard or done anything good lately?


Odgie said...

My favorite Grisham: "The Rainmaker" ~ a profoundly cynical tale of a young lawyer taking on a big insurance firm. Despite the grimness of the story, it is, in places, absolutely hilarious. The movie's not bad either.

If you are looking for more good non-fiction, check out "All Over But the Shoutin'" by Rick Bragg.

Frank Bellizzi said...

All Over But the Shoutin' -- Seems like I've been seeing and hearing that title for a long time now. What's it about? What's so great about it?

-bill said...

I like Grisham's writing style. He definitely knows his craft. A Painted House establishes this, in that it is my understanding that he wrote it just to prove that he could break out of the niche he'd carved out for himself. Like you said, though, run-of-the-mill Grisham stands head-and-shoulders above most fiction. One thing I've found helpful is to read several authors in rotation. This seems to help break the monotony.

-bill @ spiritual oasis

Odgie said...

"All Over But the Shoutin'" is Rick Bragg's memoir. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who grew up dirt poor in Alabama w/ a drunk, abusive father. He writes about his family and his experiences travelling and writing stories for the NY Times.

It's a great book because Bragg is just a great writer. His stories are both tragic and hilarious, but you really feel for the subjects in his writing. It is one of my favorite books and I recommend it to anyone who asks.

Adam Gonnerman said...

I had strep twice in 1998. Really it was just once, but I was in Brazil when it developed the first time and the super-strong, super-fast antibiotic didn't kill it all. Within a week after arriving home it came up again. Nasty.

I've always loved "Groundhog Day." A lot to think about there.