Friday, March 19, 2010

Book Review

I always found it somewhat tedious to read books - especially the so called "required" reading in high school.  A Tale of Two Cities, Moby Dick, War and Peace, David Copperfield, Wuthering Heights, Little Women, the classics that I found infinitely boring and filled with too many characters to keep track of, turned me off to reading literature.  My mind would wander constantly and I would find myself reading and rereading the page or paragraph over and over - reading the words but not registering any of them in my brain.  I would easily forget all the important details of a character who had been mentioned several chapters ago, then suddenly reappeared in the story. Any book of more than 150 pages seemed like Everest.

I found non-fiction books on the sciences, social studies, theology, psychology and even biographies much more palatable, but even then it was always an effort to read.  In the eighties, gay-themed non-fiction and fiction as well captured my interest and I read everything I could find - but that's when a gay-lit bibliography might have contained 100 or so contemporary titles.  I could go to the local alternative/gay/lesbian bookstore and buy books that were not in the libraries or mainstream bookstores.  I had some "disposable" income and books were not terribly expensive.  Even then, I could easily fall asleep after reading a few pages.

It would sometimes take me weeks to finish a book, and walking into a bookstore would overwhelm me: where to begin? where to look?  would this hold my interest?  Most fiction I figured I could get from TV or movies, except for gay themed fiction.  I was not one to "curl up in a chair" and get immersed in a mystery novel.  Fantasies like Lord of the Rings never even perked my interest.  All the rest, well - it was a huge mountain of granite I could not fathom chipping away at.  That, and my propensity to fall asleep made picking out or picking up a book seem futile.

Certainly there were a few books I came across like Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City and its several sequels that held my interest.  Christopher Bram's page turner Hold Tight was pleasantly erotic and some of John Rechy's works were very fascinating.  In the psychological/philosophical vein was intrigued by Sheldon Kopp's If You Meet the Buddha and Sam Keen's Apology For Wonder and To A Dancing God.  


More recently, with the demise of the independent bookseller, a trip to Barnes & Nobel or Borders seems akin to booking a trip to Monte Carlo and a five-star hotel.  Even the coffee is out of my league.  I've donated about 90% of my library to the Gay Archives at the local university, to get rid of clutter and hopefully give someone else a chance to read up.  I need to rediscover libraries.

In the meantime I've been known to browse Goodwill and other  thrift shops book shelves, usually not seeing much that sparks my waning intellect.  But I did pick up a one-dollar novel recently called Breakfast With Buddha, by Roland Murullo.

I read the bulk of it while on vacation and just finished the final chapters.  It is about an upper middle class, married-with-children-book-editor who is tricked by his flaky new-age sister into taking on a Russian Buddhist monk as a passenger in his road trip to North Dakota to settle his parents estate.  And the adventures and spiritual lessons that transpired along the way.  My favorite part was the encounter between the monk and a bunch of beer-drinking toughies at the bowling alley.

The author eases you in with the narrator who is a major skeptic.  And it was an easy ride.  A nice read on a deck chair by the pool or at the beach.  Tell you what.  Let me know here if you'd like to read it - I'll mail it to you if you promise to recycle.  Murullo has another novel that sounds interesting called, American Savior.  I guess it's back to Goodwill.

1 comment:

Russ Manley said...

Interesting that you say you aren't a big reader, yet you write so very well, Frank; the two usually go together.

Not being the jock type, I was always curled up in a cozy corner with a book; as a kid I loved fiction but at this age, much more inclined to nonfiction and biography or history.

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