Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Reader in Us All

Once upon a time, I worked in this bookstore called Indigo. It had three floors and was blessed with being employed in the FICTION section of the store. No alchoholic single mothers asking for the self-help section or young grooms demanding for the New Age Section. Well, I did get them but it was an easy, "... not my section... sorry... ask at the Home counter...sorry, can't leave my post...Yeah, ok good luck." (not)

One day a stressed mother did come up to me. She was tiny - about 5 feet - with blonde hair that was dyed one too many times and dressed in black slacks, blazer and striped shirt. She looked like she had just finished work. Behind her was a young jock, 6'2" at least - for lack of a better word - HUDGE. "Hi, they said you were the one to come to. I have a big problem." She was out of breath and the look of stress almost made me pity her.

"I'm, sorry m'am but I work in the Fiction section not Self-Help. You will find that at the end of the 2nd floor..." Now that I write this I realize just how mean it was.

"No, I need the fiction section. You see my son-," she pointed to the giant behind her, "he doesn't read. I buy him books, magazines, newspapers, everything! and he just won't pick anything up. I'll do anything to find him something... they said that if anyone you would be able to maybe push him." She reached into her wallet and gave me 30$. "Here, buy him whatever he wants just buy him SOMETHING. I'll wait in the cafe." And with that she turned and left.

And there it was the cash, the dude, and me. To say the least it was uncomfertable.

We went from A to Z and beyond. We did the classics, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, even EROTICA the guy didn't spark. Nothing. nada. Niendo.

Finally he gruffled, "Just pick anything." And I did.

2 weeks later as I am shelfing books in my usual little corner which is the junction between sci-fi & fantasy (you will often find me there even now though I don't work there anymore). Suddenly, there was a strong tap on my shoulder. "Sorry, 'Nessa?"

I turned to see the big guy in front of me. He was blushing and holding a thick copy of The Count of Monte Crisco. "Hi!"

"Hi - I just wanted to say that well ... I just finished the Power of One and it was - it was good. And I remembered that this was one of your favorite books," he held up Dumas' tome, " and... I just wanted to say thanks."

The Beef: When Peekey's mom goes wako, the brit boy is forced to be sent to private school even though he prefers remaining with his Zulu nanny. Too bad for Pee cause no one at school likes him and this leads to events that would normally be the begining of a delinquent. Which Pee eventually becomes but not the Rebel Without a Cause kind. More like the Harry Potter type i.e. even when Peekey really fucks up he succeeds (ass!). From there we journey with him through Africa and witness all the hills, Mountains and Olympus' out there - and there are many. I am talking prison, boxing ring, train rides here and there, high school dorms for boys (bring out the vodka girls!), mines, caves, Oxford University. Sound like too much? Yup - but thats what makes this book so incredible~!

Best Part: Peekey of course! His character is undescrible. Imagine Jeremy Irons young but built up like Arnold though not as thick. He is REAL and HUMAN. 4-dimensional... he is as self-critical as he is observant. And he becomes a magnet for all these eccentric characters that love or loath the younster. For example, Morrie becomes Peekay's best friend in high school. He ends up opening a bank. Morrie uses the logic of using the Jewish steryotypes that are normally against him in his favour. hahaha...

Worst Part: Especially towards the end there is such long long passages. I didn't notice because I literally ATE this book (twice!) but the members of my book club said that the last 100 pages were hard to get through - especially the Morrie speeches.
My bf has oft made the complaint that the dialogue is lacking in this piece which baffeled moi. The dialogue is not always sharp but it is very secondary. The majority of this piece is all about the narration really and the strong character who tells it.

User Friendly To: the reader's who like to squeal and yell during a read. For all the character emphasise there is a strong plot here. Also for the sports fan - especially boxing because the kick ass scenes of blood, snot and guts rocks.

Warning: Ummm yeah so like I said 2 days to read 600 pages means there was little else done during those 48 hours other then read, piss and eat (occationally).

Cool Facts: He started writing when he was 55 years old. Most of Bryce's books are not in print in the USA because they don't want to deal with Austrian writers (prefer to promote their own). Check out his explaination at his website www.brycecourtney.com