Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Ying and Yang of Bookreviews

Ken Levine, Where the Hell Am I? Trips that I have Survived. Ebook, 2011 and Emily Griffin, Editor, A Syllable of Water: Twenty Writers of Faith Reflect on Their Art (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2008

 Today, I’m going to give you the ying and yang of book reports. Maybe I’m just bipolar because these books have nothing in common, which is why I thought it might be fun to review them together.

Where the Hell Am I? could be described as a travelogue-sitcom, filled with one-liners.  As a former TV script writer and producer, Levine is good at one-liners.  Levine is also a sportswriter and a part-time professional baseball announcer.  His travels take him all over the United States, mostly to cities that have professional baseball teams or colleges where Levine’s children attend (and then there is Hawaii). Along the way, we get a taste of Levine’s wit and humor and ability to see the oddity of American life.  In Dallas, Levine notes that there seems to be a steakhouse or a church on every corner.  When he spots the “Holy Cow,” he assumes it could be either one or both.  Also in Texas, he didn’t find it odd that the George Bush Highway was a toll road.  At Big Sur there was a clothing optional pool, which seemed just wrong to Levine, who suggests that instead they place a “pig crossing” sign (this isn’t necessarily a politically correct book).   At the Dodger’s spring training camp, Christian chapel services were being held in the Sandy Koufax room (To understand the humor here, Koufax like Levine is Jewish.  Levine, however, doesn’t share with the reader that Koufax is Jewish, which means that those who do not know may wonder what’s so funny about a Koufax chapel).  Outside of Disneyworld, Levine spots a billboard advertising vasectomies and assumes most fathers after spending a day or three in the park might think it is a good idea.  And then there is Cincinnati, a city that a magazine touted it was an “inland San Francisco.”  Some in the city took exception, thinking that the article was saying that Cincinnati was gay.  Levine didn’t think it was wise for him to point out that they are known as the “Queen City.” 

This ebook was a joy to read.   It’s also cheap!  I read mine on a Nook, reading a couple of chapters a night before bed as a way to ensure that I went to sleep with a smile on my face if not a chuckle in my snore.  I look forward to reading his upcoming book, The Me Generation… By Me (Growing up in the ‘60s).