Wednesday, September 26, 2007

his dark materials

My next-door colleague Gary Alan Fine has a restaurant blog, running for more than a couple years now. How did I not know this?

Also, in the annals of "Oops, I Did It Again," I hypothesized that I would have better motivation to perseverate while exercising if I listened to an audiobook rather than music. So I bought The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1) on iTunes. I did listen to it while I exercised, then I also spent 9 more hours over the last two days not exercising but listening to it all the way to the end. (Very highly recommended, btw, at least in audiobook form.) Says a friend, "You should just decide you are only going to listen to it while you are exercising." Yeah, right. Those stories about women suddenly having the strength to lift cars off of their children are more plausible than the idea of me suddenly having a burst of will-muscle that would allow me to do that once I am into a story.

Still not as bad as when I sat around listening straight through to the final 12 hours of the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix audiobook, my least favorite of the HP series anyway.

10 comments:

yli said...

no intention to be polemic, but the feminist in me brakes when i read:

"Those stories about women suddenly having the strength to lift cars off of their children are more plausible..."

why "women"? are there really such stories to cite? otherwise, i think substitute "women" with "parents" (or even "people") would be just fine. the loss of dramatic effect would be much compensated by the gain in not promoting exaggerated gender stereotypes.

(and sorry, didn't mean to sound preachy...)

Ang said...

Cecil Adams documents the "mother lifting car up off her kid" story here.

jeremy said...

In addition to Ang's link, I've never heard somebody make reference to a story about a father who suddenly has the strength to lift a car of his children.

Carol said...

The His Dark Materials series is fantastic. I've read the three books twice, and I'd read them again soon if I hadn't lent them to someone. I read where he is writing a 4th and I'm looking forward to seeing the movie. Enjoy!

Jake said...

I read Moby Dick while exercising. It was just interesting enough to make me forget about the pain, but not interesting enough to make we want to read it when I didn't have any other options. Perhaps you can start on the Russian novelists? Or James Joyce? Or something else that you really ought to read, but which may not have armored bears, betrayal, and snow involved.

marc said...

I did notice that Wicked Anomie was the first to link Veal Cheeks among the known-to-me sociologist bloggers. Seems like there should be a play on words there somehow... Gary Allen's Fine Foods or something. Probably that's a bit much though.

Kieran said...

The Pullman books are a case study of an author gradually losing control of the world they have created: the first twenty pages of The Golden Compass have more good ideas in them than most novelists have their whole career, and the book itself is superb. The second one is significantly weaker, and the third one just loses the plot completely.

yli said...

ang -- thanks for the link. glad to know my hinderance was partly lack of common cultural knowledge. still, it seems that this story is the only verifiable source of all "those stories," and the woman was 5'8" (which puts her to around 95 pencentile of american women's height) and reportedly "large-framed and strong." a casual reference to such "stories," though, invokes the image of the average woman if not a much daintier one as magazine covers disproportionately feature. and the metaphoric effect inevitably capitalizes on that cultural image (i.e., women as the weaker sex) whether one (reader or writer) is aware of it or not.
jeremy, "In addition to Ang's link, I've never heard somebody make reference to a story about a father who suddenly has the strength to lift a car of his children." -- doesn't that make it more implausible than mothers lifting cars? :)

Laura said...

Now, as when he first posted on it, I still disagree with Kieran on the third book. I agree that Pullman lost control of not just the plot but everything - but the effect, for me, was one of the most entrancing reading experiences of the past decade or so. I didn't stop reading it to turn on a light as the room got dark, and (possible sorta spoiler?):



I cried for a solid twenty minutes. Not got teary-eyed - wept.

kristina b said...

I'm with the lovers on Pullman's series. I have actually read it twice now. Once when it was recommended to me quite a few years ago and another time when I recommended it to some one and wanted to experience it again with them. The last book is... interesting. It has lots of problems, of course, but I still think the series is pretty amazing. I'm surprised it hasn't caused controversy in the U.S., and I was very surprised to see that a movie is being made out of it. I think they will play up the talking bear bits and downplay his philosophical stance! In fact, I'll be shocked if they're true to Pullman's views! I was just looking at the production company's list of films and I really can't venture a guess at how they'll treat the material. The first books will be much easier than the third, that's for sure.