Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Andy Roddick Beat Me with a Frying Pan

Andy Roddick Beat Me with a Frying Pan, by Todd Gallagher. Three Rivers Press.

A collection of burning smoldering questions fans of American sports may have, along with some answers.

For example, would a morbidly obese person make a good goalie in hockey? Or, would a baseball team comprised of midgets be successful due to their small strike zones?

Cute, but I'd be exaggerating if I called it a particularly satisfying read.

Shakespeare: The World as Stage

Shakespeare: The World as Stage, by Bill Bryson. Atlas Books.

A short (199 pp, including a Bibliography) biography of William Shakespeare. It's short by necessity: in spite of his stature as a writer, very little is known about Shakespeare today. Bryson acknowledges this, but does an admirable job of putting together what is known while avoiding the crap that literary critics tend to make up—which isn't entirely satisfying, but it's a lot less unsatisfying than reading clearly fabricated claptrap.

La vida nueva

La vida nueva, by Orhan Pamuk. Alfaguara.

A strange book, and one harder to summarize than most without giving away too much.

La Reina del Sur

La Reina del Sur, by Arturo Pérez Reverte. Alfaguara.

The story of a Teresa Mendoza, a woman from Sinaloa who rises in the world of illegal drug dealing.

Exciting and fun güey, except when Pérez Reverte, a Spaniard, uses too much Mexican slang. Chale. Híjole. Also, do Mexicans and other Latin Americans start to use vosotros after living in Spain for a while? Pérez Reverte's Mendoza does, and I thought it odd.

Alma tells me that this book is based loosely on the life of a real person, and even showed me an article about her, but the details seemed rather different in a number of ways.

Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin

Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin by Nicholas Ostler. Walker.

Quite similar in intent and scope to A Natural History of Latin (indeed, Ad Infinitum's preface mentioned it in positive terms, which is why I bought it). It's an interesting and entertaining overview of Latin's history.

Although generally good, I found it curiously weak in some places, where Ostler came across strangely pedantic. For example, Ostler translates expecto patronum, from Harry Potter, as "I await the master". True, I guess, in the literal sense, but odd all the same.

Anyway, the lapses into unloving pedantry are rare. Recommended for language nerds.