Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

The Brief History of the Dead is a highly original novel that alternates between chapters about a female wildlife specialist in Antarctica who may be the last person alive on the planet following a viral pandemic and chapters featuring a city where the dead continue to live as long as someone on Earth remembers them.

The book's author Kevin Brockmeier is a very gifted writer and his skill is evident throughout the narrative. The conceit of the necropolis, though, doesn't hold up through the length of the text, and as the link between the two storylines becomes clear, the plot drags toward its inevitable terminus.

I also struggled a bit with the book's apocalyptic setup of a virus that kills everyone on the planet. Even assuming the most virulent strain of a mutagenic virus, it seems incredibly unlikely that a virus would kill off an entire host population. Perhaps if Brockmeier had offered up explanations as to why the virus didn't mutate into less virulent forms or why no one was immune, this questionable plot construct wouldn't have stood out so much.

Despite these points, it's worth repeating how inventive and well-written The Brief History of the Dead is. I look forward to reading more from Kevin Brockmeier in the future.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Ravenweb 2006 Year in Review

As 2006 is closing down, I thought I would highlight some of the major Ravenweb posts from the past year. 2006 was really the first full year I maintained a blog, so I'm pleased (and a little surprised) I posted regularly throughout the entire year.

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed the past twelve months of Ravenweb, and I look forward to posting more in 2007.

Ravenweb 2006 Year in Review
  • Cecily and I visited Santa Fe, New Mexico. The visit inspired a slideshow and a column.
  • I reread Elie Wiesel's Night.
  • IE7 is released.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

Rubyfruit Jungle is Rita Mae Brown's milestone novel about growing up lesbian in America.

I first read this over fifteen years ago and remember feeling a strong connection with the Molly Bolt character, who never apologized for who she was and refused to buckle to the world's sexism and judgements.

Reading the text again so many years later, I was pleased to discover just how well the book held up and that my initial impression was unchanged. I found that Molly was still a great, feisty character, and that the novel was fairly timeless.

This is because, ultimately, Rubyfruit Jungle is a simple and honest story about self-acceptance and coming to terms with one's sexuality that's just as true now as it was twenty or thirty years ago.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

New GTI

I'm thrilled to report that we now have a new 2007 Volkswagen GTI!



We picked it up a few weeks ago, and it has proven to be a wonderfully designed, feisty vehicle. The GTI is equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine featuring direct injection and a single turbocharger. This translates to 197 horsepower at 5100 rpm and 207 pound-feet of torque at just 1800. So we can now get to 60 mph in about seven seconds.

The only problem with the new ride is that both Cecily and I want to drive it all the time!

A Charlie Brown "Scrubs" Christmas

I'm not sure how old this is or how it hit the net, but here's a link to a great YouTube video featuring the cast of Scrubs voicing and re-imagining the classic "A Charlie Brown Christmas".

According to some blogs, the cast made this video for a Christmas party and it has since found it’s way onto the net.

Lucky for us!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Don't Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff

Don't Get Too Comfortable is a funny and sharp collection of essays that skewer current bourgeoisie cultural excess. The essays include inventories of Hooters Air and a cryogenics storage facility, critiques of Paris couture and Beverly Hills "re-facing" salons, the author's observations while working as a cabana boy at a plush South Beach hotel, and more.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Stumbling on Happiness is an insightful and accessible book that attempts to explain why people do such a poor job at predicting what will make them happy.

Armed with both scientific research and funny anecdotes, author Daniel Gilbert shows that when people try to imagine the futures they would like, they often make some basic and consistent mistakes, similar to the errors of omission that occur in memory.

This book won't necessarily arm you with the tools to make yourself happy, but it will help explain why some of the decisions we make in the present don't always turn out as we expect or want in the future.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Being Poor

If any of you have not yet read John Scalzi's "Being Poor" post, this is a good a time of the year to reset it.