Monday, May 24, 2010

Big Book Read #12

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

Death has decided to quit the whole death business and poor old (and dead) Windle Poons and company are left to deal with their second attempts at life. Some strange things are cropping up (and flying about) in Ankh-Morpork and it’s up to the Fresh Start Club to save the living. Meanwhile, Death has found a new job as a real reaper for Miss Flitworth and discovers just how interesting life can be.

This book was funny and strange, just what I like. However, it wasn’t perfect. There were moments, especially towards the end that were a big confusing during a big action sequence. But, overall this was an excellent read. Pratchett is humorous, silly and witty. I’m planning on adding many more Discworld books to my library.

This was my first Terry Pratchett book and I think it was an excellent introduction. He’s well-known as arguably the best parodist working today and I can see how he got that distinction.

Big Book Read #11

Between the Bridge and the River by Craig Ferguson

Much like after reading Stephen Fry’s memoir, I wasn’t quite done with Mr. Ferguson after finishing his memoir American on Purpose. I had heard he had written a rather well-received novel several years ago so I headed out to the giant used bookstore near the house and snagged a copy of Between the Bridge and the River.

The novel follows Fraser, a phony televangelist from Scotland and his childhood friend George who is terminally ill and determined to kill himself, Leon and Saul, two morally and sexually perverted brothers and….Carl Jung. Yes, Carl Jung.

Ferguson rips on the media, religion and pop culture with a truly twisted sense of humor. This book was hilarious, sad, profane, surreal and very, very strange. I loved it.

Big Book Read #10

Rapture Ready: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture
by Daniel Radosh

Rapture Ready follows author Daniel Radosh on various adventures within the diverse and somewhat misunderstood world of Christian pop culture. What follows is a humorous and insightful look through the eyes of a secular outsider (Radosh describes himself as a humanistic Jew) that is light on mockery and heavy on what I would call an amused understanding. Radosh does not generally speak only with the weirdos (unlike Bill Maher in ‘Religulous’) but also with perfectly normal people. His goal is not to humiliate but to understand. He is honestly curious.

Radosh visits a Christian music festival (where the amount of times a band prays during their set determines how popular they are), a Christian wrestling match, hangs out with Bibleman, goes undercover to take park in a gigantic passion play, and wades through a warehouse full of “Jesus Junk” (Tchotchkes and knickknacks. Think bobblehead Jesus, purity rings, Salvation Challenge board game, etc.). He tries to understand that whole “Left Behind” series (I’m still trying to figure that one out…), learns just how much money Christian bookstores make, listens to a little Christian comedy and walks through a “Hell House” (I won’t even go into how disturbing those things are. Google it.).

Rapture Ready is an insightful, slightly snarky introduction to Christian pop culture. It doesn’t sanitize but looks at it honestly and with humor. Because Radosh is coming into this Christian bubble from the outside I believe he’s best suited to write about the topic. To quote another review:

“One of the pieces of advice you're often given when getting ready to sell your house is to have someone who's never been there come to walk through & look for all the things that need fixing or repainting. There's a reason - you've lived there for so long that you've become used to the imperfections, blemishes & outright broken stuff. Mr. Radosh's book that does just that for Christian pop culture (primarily evangelical pop culture).”

I’d recommend this book for people, like me, who did not grow up in the world of Christian pop culture and for anyone interested in reading about it with a fresh pair of eyes.