Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Stephen King: Writer of Crime Novels and Prognosticator of the Future?
Today's the day. New Stephen King. I'm going to find the closest bookstore and then I'm going to pick it up. It's a trade paperback and they're priced to move. I'm excited about it. This is one of the reasons I was worried when I heard he was retiring: I wouldn't get to go to the bookstore on the day a new Stephen King came out (I sound a little like Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates's character in Misery), I know). Anyway, it's short and King writes for readers to read, so my guess is I'll be telling you how good it is pretty soon.
In other news, I've decided not to expell the new John Irving book, Until I Find You, from my reading list, but merely to put it on probation. If I get through another long chapter and it's still going nowhere, then it's done. I'll put the dust jacket back on and I'll consider it fair game for my next trip to the used book store. The reason for my magnanimous gesture of Jesus-like mercy on John Irving's latest doorstop is that the story did pick up a little after the opening section; the main character, Jack Burns, is an 8-year old boy and he's now attending an all-girls private boarding school. The older girls are showing an interest in Jack that goes beyond "Awwww". So as you can imagine, the story's getting kinda icky, but it's not nearly as boring, which for this book is a vast improvement over its first 120 pages. I know. Fascinating.
Also, I found out that Alan Lee, the illustrator of the Lord of the Rings books as well as one of the production designers of the three films, will be visiting Atlanta on the 25th of this month to sign his new book of illustrations. I'd like to go, but the cost of a big glossy book of Lee's drawings may be prohibitive. We'll see. Also, Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America and her latest, Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream, will be speaking in Atlanta on the 18th. I don't know if she's signing anything, but it might be fun to hear her speak.
One last thing: I watched Bush's press conference this morning. I get the sense that Bush kind of hates the press. I understand that: to him, they must seem like a pack of vultures asking him loaded questions wired to blow up in his face at the first moment's candor. But watching him today you can tell he has a real disdain for them. They asked him again and again for one reason Harriet Meirs, his new pick for the Supreme Court, was more qualified than any number of conservative women he might have nominated, and he would just dip into the litany he'd rehearsed. She's got "strength of character", he knows "her heart", and she's been "a pioneer in Texas." He got four or five questions from the press corps regarding Meirs and each time he dipped back into his speech. He repeated word for word what he'd said before. One time he said, "I guess I can just say it again," and then he recited his weak, touchy-feely description of her. Another time he prefaced his Meirs answer with, "I just talked about that, but I guess I can do it again." And then he did. He recited his description again. I'm surprised the press corps were able to suppress groans. I didn't. I mean, he knows he's spewing forth meaninglessness -- he knows that all the people sitting there and all the people watching at home just heard him say why he liked her, but still, he goes through it again, like we're all idiots and only through repetition will we ever get through our thick skulls the simple words he's uttering. It's almost like he's punishing the reporter who asked the question with 30 seconds of unendurable banality for daring to challenge him about his bonehead, crony pick.
These press conferences are ridiculous, especially when you have an idiot behind the lectern. At least when Clinton gave us non-answers (which it seems they all do), they didn't sound always like non-answers. Bush just comes right out and basically says, "I don't think I have to answer that question, and I'm not going to." And that's to every question. I read just a little while ago that the reason Bush says "he knows [Meirs's] heart" is because she's a Born Again Christian, and that she's on the extreme end of the anti-choice spectrum. It's not looking good, folks.
But then there was one very strange thing he said.
Someone asked him about avian flu and a possible outbreak in this country. He talked about using the military to quarantine sections of the country. He said stopping air travel was one thing, but what about a quarantine over part of the country? How could that be done? One of the answers was the military. He said he would keep his options open on that score. So the question is this: What does W know about the avian flu that we don't? My guess is quite a lot. For more information on what a military-enforced quarantine would look like, please read The Stand by Stephen King. It's a novel about a flu epidemic that kills just about everyone.
My world seems less secure every day. All right, I'm out.