About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Vacation Reads

OK, back from a week's vacation in Orlando, worshipping at the Temple of the Mouse. I'm eager to jot down my observations about this American rite of passage, road trips in general, and a whole bunch of other stuff, but that will have to wait till I've had some coffee and unpacked some suitcases. In the meantime, the book list continues:
  • 4. Peripheral Vision, by Patricia Ferguson. Pretty good, but didn't quite live up to expectations. The story itself was fairly interesting, though I found the ending a bit abrupt; without giving away too much, in case someone's actually reading this, one of the stories' conclusion seems a bit forced, and doesn't quite make sense. In terms of meta-commentary, I appreciate the point Ferguson's trying to make: that which we see clearly, right in front of our noses, is only part of the truth, and every story has bits and pieces around the edges that don't quite seem to fit at first ... but in reality, provide important clues to what really lies beneath. 3.5 out of 5 bookmarks.
  • 4a. The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2009, by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa. Brilliant guidebook for anyone who wants to enjoy a Disney vacation, but can't quite bring themselves to buy into they hype completely. I'm not counting this as one of my 100 books for the year, as it's more a reference than anything else ... but I can't recommend it highly enough to anyone else planning a Disney vacation, and can't thank Ruth & Becky enough for recommending it to me. The touring plans were invaluable in helping us figure out what to see and do when, which is key in parks that are this big and crowded (though the crowds weren't bad at all when we visited). Detailed info on FastPass helped us make the most of it without overdoing it (which would have caused more trouble than it was worth), useful restaurant recommendations, detailed descriptions of who each R&A would appeal to vs. which ones could be skipped. 4.5 out of 5 bookmarks.
  • 5. The Spare Wife, by Alex Witchel. Decent but forgettable vacation read. Outing myself here: this is just the kind of thing I secretly love to read on vacation or when I'm procrastinating about something much more important. Gorgeous, wealthy model-cum-attorney in NYC, widow of a much-older, very successful husband, beloved by her NY society friends, dubbed "the spare wife" because she's such a good friend to both husbands and wives alike without being threatening. That is, until (dum dum DUM) a crass but ambitious young journalist discovers she's having a long-standing affair with the "happily" married fertility specialist to the stars. Mayhem ensues; all ultimately ends well. 2.5 out of 5 bookmarks.
  • 6. Liberty, by Garrison Keillor. Entertaining for Prairie Home Companion fans. This reads almost exactly like an episode of Keillor's radio show, for better or worse. If you enjoy Prairie Home Companion, you'll probably like the book; if you find it annoying, don't bother. On the plus side, Keillor is very funny, and has a ton of mostly good-natured observations about small-town Americana that made me laugh out loud. It's also entertaining to see him apply this same style to subjects that are a bit too risque, too political, or both for the radio. (There's a parody of the Larry Craig debacle that had me in stitches, and a definitely Palinesque congressional candidate.) On the other, his meandering, tangential style gets a little old in a 267-page novel ... and maybe this is just my own bias, but the whole theme of older man becomes enamored of young woman, and suddenly fears he's been living the wrong life all along has been done to death. (Tangent of my own: this is why I stopped reading Philip Roth, who's a brilliant writer, but clearly needs to work through some of his own aging issues before writing yet another version of this same story.) 3 out of 5 bookmarks.

All right, that coffee is calling. Let's see what else I can read before the current cache is due back to the library.

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