This is a good book for completists. I was sad reading this book because I knew when I finished it there would be no more Barthelme that I hadn’t read and all I could ever do was re-read him [or drag up old essays from architectural magazines, or go to Texas and dig through his papers] but I think this book is actually a good goodbye. Some of it’s marvelous and all of it’s fascinating, but there are definitely some pieces here that drag.
I mean, in many of his books there is a piece or two that maybe aren’t as spunky as the others, but you can sort of see how they all fit together with the group as a whole. Even though this collection was ably curated by Kim Herzinger, there wasn’t that same sense of “oh this story isn’t so good on its own but combined with the one before it and the one after it, it begins to make some sense in a weird Barthelme sort of way” I just didn’t like some of these stories and that’s pretty much okay. Generally speaking this was a joy to read. The book is attractive, it’s hefty and there are notes in the back which is my favorite part, really, of any short story collection. Where did this story come from? Where has it been?
This book attempts to explore what we know about love and combine it with what we know about science to see if we can gain some knowlede about the entire process. It does an okay job, but there were definitely some aprts where I felt that I was being fed selective science in order to further the authors' claims about how the world workd nd how the mind and body connected to it. It was a fun schience-lite read but I would have appreciaetd either more rigor or slightly less. As it was, when I got to the part at the end where they start talking about what is wrong with modern medicine, I found myself agreeing with their general opinions, but disliking their tone so much I wanted to take devil’s advocate positions on them. Book has a nice cover and might be a better read for someone either more or less inclined towards the authors' conclusions. As it was, I felt stuck somewhat in the middle.
Caveat: Jonathan sent me this book. I’ve had a rough year of reading. I’ve been spending more of my travel time working and travel time was when I used to do a lot of reading. I’ve also done less flying and more driving, good for the environment [maybe?] but not so great for reading. So I was happy to get this bookwhich looked fun and interesting and did not disapoint thinking “maybe I can finish this one?” And you know what? I did. Not only did it finish it, but it almost seemed too short. I was going to save part of it for the flight home but tore through it wanting to know what happened and how.
The story and even the tone of this book are familiar. It’s a story of a band, and bandmates, and artists and the way they interact, drink, come together and come apart. There’s music, sex, drinking, eating and the schlepping of instruments. However, somehow this story, this band, this slice of live seems different, more interesting, more alive. The writing doesn’t fall over the same old music cliches and has enough big words that I felt that it was writing to my level. It doesn’t just say “it was the best song ever” it shows you some of the passion and the feeling and that hot-behind-the-ears buzz you get when something is just so right. It’s hard to do that well, in my opinion, and it’s horrible when it’s done wrong. This was a fun, fast, lively read. The book cover text says something to the effect of how “things will never be the same...” for this band and yet it both is and isn’t always the same.