Thursday, August 30, 2012

Summer reading

With the best week of summer weather now upon us just as school is in its first full week and football is already into its third week! It must be Fall! So, summer reading is over. It is for my wife since she is back to teaching and her days of leisurely reading are over for awhile. She and I were on a mission to read anything by Ann Patchett this summer. We had read Bell Canto a few years ago and then inexplicably never read anything else by her until we read State of Wonder earlier in the year. We enjoyed that one so much we went on to Run. She went on to The Magician's Assistant and Patron Saint of Liars, both of which I have on my shelf after visiting Title Wave in Anchorage this summer.  She is a marvelous writer and weaves a great story.

I read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry on my Kindle so I had to buy a copy for her to read, too. I blogged about it earlier.

Reading a LaVonne Neff's blog about books, I came across the series of mysteries by the Brit Peter Lovesey. He has written eleven books about the detective Peter Diamond. I am on my fifth. Diamond appeals to me. He is the opposite of Jack Reacher ( I read The Affair this summer, too), he is overweight, does not fight much at all, is happily married - so if you're thinking there is not much sex or violence in these mysteries - you would be right!. But, they are much richer and multi-layered than most of the suspense genre today. Story and characters matter. Diamond is something of a klutz when it comes to technology, too, so I relate. He does detective work the old fashioned way by talking to people and discovering again and again that people are a mystery.

Favorite memoir of sorts was Chris Rice's Grace Matters about his friendship in Jackson, MS with the son of John Perkins. Perkins and Rice begin an unlikely relationship that led to starting an interracial church community and a speaking partnership on interracial issues.

As commentary on our sports/war culture and the intermixing of those images Ben Fountain's Halftime Walk of Billy Lynn is as good as it gets. It is funny and sad, and makes you wonder why it has to be like this.

I read one of those facebook rants about the need to unseat Obama because he is making an end run around the constitution. Rachel Maddow's book Drift makes a pretty good case that presidents since Johnson have been doing it fairly regularly. Reagan was nearly impeached for it (remember Iran-Contra). Clinton and the Bushes came up with the bright idea of outsourcing our wars so they could avoid constitutional issues. The founding fathers wanted to make it difficult to go to war and they did not want one man (the president) to be able to take the country to war on his own. That's why they took war making powers away from the executive branch and gave them to Congress. If we were going to war, they thought the whole country should go on a war footing. Jefferson was very skeptical of  having a standing army. It would be too easy to go to war. Today, and for the past twenty years or more, we have fought wars and increased the defense budget exponentially and it doesn't affect most Americans unless they are family to those who serve in the military. That's an end run around the constitution.