Sunday, November 23, 2008

U

Books:

I seem to have a knack for picking out first-time books. Vacation [215/jumped] is a first-time novel by Deb Olin Unferth (although she's written and published short stories previously).
The story was at times confusing - although often I think it meant to be, in an attempt to convey the muddleheadedness of the characters it was tracking - and at times it was funny, and at times it was heartbreaking.
...you know, I kinda suck at reviewing things. Publishers Weekly had this to say about Vacation:

In this enthralling headscratcher of a first novel, Unferth (the story collection Minor Robberies) weaves an intricate tale of quests and escapes, of leaving and following. As a child, Myers falls out of a window, shattering his skull and unknowingly living the rest of his life with a misshapen head. Years later, he follows his wife, who spends her evenings following a man she doesn't know. The man, whom Myers identifies as a former classmate of his named Gray, is unaware that he is being doubly tracked. The marriages of both men fall apart, and Myers finds himself on vacation, traveling in search of Gray while Gray's ex-wife and daughter look for him, too. The problem is that Gray does not know where Gray is. If this all sounds puzzling, it is; still, with grace and skill, Unferth manages to weave together the most far-fetched of events. A subplot involving a dolphin untrainer and a woman in search of her birth father is distracting, and Unferth's wordplay can verge on the excessive, but a poignancy emerges in spite of Unferth's post-modern indulgences.

And that accurately sums it up. So, thanks for that, professional critics!

CDs:
I was happy with the two musical selections this go around. U2's 18 Singles was, well, eighteen tracks from U2, so that was familiar.
And then I also listened to the self-titled album from Under the Influence of Giants, which was surprisingly good. I especially enjoyed "Ah Ha!", "Stay Illogical", and "Lay Me Down". All around catchy pop songs that aren't played on the radio, but certainly could be, if, you know, radio stations didn't suck.

DVDs:
Because I felt like depressing myself horribly (and because there were no other decent "U" titles to choose from), I watched United 93, the fictional interpretation of what happened to the final hijacked plane from September 11th.
I did find the movie interesting in how even the air traffic controllers at first didn't really comprehend the severity of what was happening. The whole situation was just so outside the realm of consideration of the American people at that time... And, I have to applaud that the filmmakers did a fair job of humanizing the terrorists, as well as the men and women on board the plane. Considering how sensitive a topic 9/11 is, I think they did a very good job of staying pretty neutral and just presenting the movie as a story based on actual events without stating a political agenda.
Plus, Sledge Hammer was in it. Cool!

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