Sunday, September 18, 2011

Friday Night LIghts -- H.G. Bissinger ------------- 3.5 Stars

Well, this is a somewhat noteworthy blog. You see, it is my first book I have ever read on this new fangled device called a Kindle. On a side note, I enjoyed the Kindle, though, like many, I didn't think I would. It's so nice, easy, and simple, and as an added bonus, I have the Kindle app on my phone so I actually read much of this book on my phone...very cool.

Anyway, for those who don't know, Friday Night Lights is not just a movie and a TV show. In fact, most only know FNL from those two places, but well before the movie and show it was a pretty awesome book. As most already know, the story is about a year in the life in West Texas (Odeass specifically) and the story of high school football. I had been familiar with the movie and show (though I'm one of the few who apparently did not love the show).

Some things I learned:
1. They really, really, really love football in Texas. Like, to the point where people's priorities are significantly skewed in life (not to judge, but let's just say education is way, way behind football in importance).
2. The story took place in 1989...I had no idea it was this old.
3. The book is really a story about American culture and life. Sure, it's based around football but for much of the book I almost felt like I was reading an essay on sociology. This to me really was the most enjoyable part and interesting part of the book. Although I loved the football stories (it basically takes you through a whole season of a high school team) and biography's of the best players and coaches, the stories about life in Texas is what made this book great. Learning about the skewed priorities, the obsession with football in people's lives, the lack of time/interest put into education, the danger that is living in Odessa (one of highest murder rates in the country), and the waxing and waning of the economy based on oil prices.

So, you might be asking, how could this book get only 3.5 stars? It sounds awesome. Well, a few reasons. First, the author is a newspaper journalist and the books lacks some of the eloquence of prose that is usually found in other books that I read. It was told well, and straightforwardly, but it never really painted the great picture that you might hope in a book. Second, although I thoroughly enjoyed the non-football parts of the book, sometimes they would go on way too long. I'd be reading about a play in some big game, that flash forwarded to the stands, where the author than stars talking about some guy, and his life, and history, and some random stories about how his interest in football has affected his life. It just became a bit much after a while.

Overall, it was a very good story and a must read if you were into the FNL movie and TV show. For a casual sports/football fan, also a highly suggested read, but just be aware that you are getting a book about life in West Texas...and also, secondary to it, a book about football. Just be prepared that it occasionally drolls on, but it's still worth it, thanks to the great football stories.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Corrections -- Jonathan Franzen ------------------------ 4 Stars

I think this is going to be a short blog. Yesterday was the wedding of my brother-in-law (which was great) and tomorrow is the first day of school, so I need some rest but first I had to share my thoughts on a very entertaining and enjoyable read The Corrections.

Recently I was looking for a good book to read and this came up in a few places as one of the best novels of the past decade; it did not disappoint. It's what I would call 'modern literature'. I say modern because this book is very much about the current world and all of it's bizarreness. The themes in the book are definitely grown up: sex, drugs, a little violence but this book is really about family. An incredibly dysfunctional, sad, and modern family. The other reason it's 'modern' is because of both the adult themes but also how it's written, which is very informal. It is still very much 'literature' though as the writing is wonderful and creative. The plot has a ton of conflict and there is a lot to it. By that I mean the themes and depictions of the family are superb and so real. You can't help but read this book and feel like you know these people and you know this family. And though the novel never overtly states what anyone is thinking, and dialogue is not hugely insightful, you can't help finishing this book and truly understanding the desires and issues that every person in the story is dealing with it.

I strongly suggest checking out the book. Although a bit long, it moves crisply and the dialogue throughout is incredibly entertaining. The story is told in about 6 month time period and it's basically about 2 older parents and their 3 siblings and then their issues. God almighty each person has their own issues. If your ever thinking "what is a typical dysfunctional Midwestern family like?", this book will answer it but it's great to be there along the way. I promise you'll be entertained.