One of the nice things about now having a blog is that I can write about stuff that wouldn’t make sense for my weekly column (in other words, the columns are supposed to have a clear point and structure; this doesn’t). Like reviews. Here’s some stuff I’ve liked recently.
City of Thieves by David Benioff
This is a fantastic book. The plot – two Russians from Leningrad trying to escape death by the hands of the Nazis or from their own people – moves along really quickly and yet the characters are really well developed (you care about them). The book is kind of funny, the plot keeps you hooked, it’s a serious book so you feel like you’re reading substantial but it’s also a really fast, easy read. What more can you ask for?
The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
Not as good as The Interestings, but still well-written, good characters, timely with the events of the past year (#metoo) and if you like her (or you like books that take place in New York), worth reading.
How To American: An Immigrants Guide by Jimmy Wang.
A really funny memoir from the guy who plays Jian-Yang on Silicon Valley. Not that different from most coming-of-age-as-an-immigrant stories but he’s a really likeable character who pursues his dreams and fulfills them so you’re happy for him and happy to be entertained by him. Made a flight to Phoenix much better.
Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian
Got such great reviews that even though I don’t like golf, I figured it’d be worth reading anyway. The character study of Tiger and his family is interesting but at the end of the day, if none of the major events in his life (like the Masters) have any meaning to you, it’s hard to stay engaged. But if you like golf, it seems like a great book.
The last four episodes of Atlanta
Since it’s a show about mainly mundane people with kind of mundane (in a very specific way) life, do the last four episodes (which are basically a horror story for each of the main characters) mean that our lives are a lot weirder than we realize or that theirs are a lot more interesting? All the problems they face and all the daily annoyances seem familiar, but when things go wrong for Ern, Darius and Paper Boi, they go really, really wrong. Guess that makes our lives less interesting by comparison but also reduces the odds of being stuck in a German festival in suburban Atlanta, stuck in the woods being chased by a drunk and armed lunatic or stuck in the house of a sociopath who may kill you at any moment (or just play some Stevie Wonder). Seems like a decent trade off.
The Death of Stalin
The Death of Stalin is either a cult classic in the making or I was just really in a good place when I saw it (also always fun to see a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse, even if it’s in Brooklyn rather than Austin). Calling it absurd isn’t really fair to the absurd but I loved it. If you generally find bureaucratic shenanigans (and borscht) entertaining, you’ll like this one.
Went to a Diamondbacks game in Phoenix with my buddy Garrett a few weeks ago. First time in their ballpark. Would give it a B-/C+. Any park with a retractable roof probably needs to be designed in a bulky way so maybe there wasn’t much they could do, but it definitely didn’t have the intimacy of the ballparks we love (whether old ones like Fenway and Wrigley or new ones like CitiField and PNC). The food was pretty bad (and since it was during Passover, finding what to eat wasn’t easy) but the crowd was really into the game, so the energy was good. I wouldn’t make special trip to Phoenix just to see a game there but if you’re already in the neighborhood and there’s a game, might as well drop by.