Monday, December 21, 2009

What I'm Reading Monday -- Dec. 21

OK, so I'm back on track with my reading -- as well as my cleaning (getting ready for in-laws). It's Monday again, and I actually finished reading some books:

What I've finished reading:

Once the Shore (before I had to return it for Interlibrary Loan): This collection of short stories by Paul Yoon maintains a remarkable consistency of tone that seems to be a gentle sweeping of language over sometimes brutal events, such as disastrous encounters with the U.S. military, physical disabilities, mental disorders, thievery, lost love and isolation. Just about all the stories take place on a fictional resort island off the coast of South Korea; the times seem to range from World War II to almost the present. As I enjoy reading about Korean culture (and reading books written by Wesleyan grads), "Once the Shore" was a natural for me. But several of the stories proved difficult reading, because the prose is so elusive -- it seems to melt away as you read it. But the stories Yoon tells are powerful, particularly the ones that focus on isolation, tradition and lost love.

Googled (business book about Google and the media): The book offers an illuminating peek into the workings of Google, but Ken Auletta hits a wall about 2/3 of the way through -- he doesn't have any answers about what Google will to do old media, so he just keeps saying I don't know again and again and again. The profiles of Page and Brinn are pretty interesting, but the rest of the Googlers, including Eric Schmidt, aren't, and Auletta gives us way too much on their backgrounds. Also, he keeps coming back to some of the old-media players, particularly the Group M and Verizon CEOs, even though they have about as mucn insight as Auletta has. Basically, Google found a way to monetize a search engine, and we're all waiting to see what they do with their money -- if they make a colossal mistake, as when AOL merged with Time Warner, or if they buy the next big thing, whatever that is. I had hoped that this book would delve more deeply into the idea of Google and the sociology of knowledge, but that's not Auletta's thing, really; he's a business reporter.

Reading now:

The Good Life: This Jay McInerney novel is not good enough to keep me riveted but not bad enough to make me stop reading -- I'm about 80 pages away from finishing. I'm curious to see how it comes out. It reminds me of Wendy Wasserstein's novel Elements of Style (published posthumously), about the post-9/11 rich. I actually liked Elements better, although it didn't make my top 60 list, simply because the main character of a Manhattan pediatrician was more compelling than anybody in The Good Life. But once I'm finished with this book, I'll be able to get started on the one challenge that started before 2010 -- the Winter Book Challenge -- probably with Agent to the Stars, which is in first-person.

1 comment:

J. Kaye said...

Loved your insights into GOOGLED. At first glance, it sounded like a book I'd enjoy. After reading your thoughts, it sounded like it fell a bit short that what you'd hoped. Yes?