Thursday, July 10, 2008

Iceland and Izzard

Today I started reading the novel Iceland by Jim Krusoe and got more than halfway through it before the day was done. I got the book free when I was a bookseller. One of attractions of the novel is the fact that it’s published by Dalkey Archive. They’re just a really cool press that publishes a lot of international fiction. Iceland is a very strange tale about Paul, whose doctor recommends that he shop for a new organ, because his has a mysterious degenerative disease. When he enters the building that houses the available organs he instantly and feverishly falls in love with Emily, whose job is to swim with the organs to keep them stimulated. [Major Spoilers Ahead] Soon Paul is impulsively taking a trip to Iceland with his Leo, who had recently cleaned Paul’s living room carpet. Valerie, Leo’s wife of twenty-five years and a alcoholic kleptomaniac, has recently died and they had always meant to go to Iceland. Leo explains that Valerie was some sort of “Icelandophile” and he had purchased two tickets to Iceland just before she died. Paul, feeling somewhat put off by Emily, decides that a week long trip to Iceland may be just what he needs. Unfortunately, soon after they arrive Leo dies when he falls into an active volcano. During that tragic side trip, Paul falls in love with their guide, Greta. Greta and Paul marry and have two kids, Inga and Ingo. Soon the marriage runs into trouble though, when Greta has an affair with her Icelandic Sagas teacher. In order to reaffirm their marriage and family, Paul decides to take the family to the final resting place of Ragnar, Iceland’s greatest saga writer. Ragnar’s final wish was to be interred in the center of Iceland within a block of ice. While visiting this dingy and icy tomb, Paul’s wife and children are killed in an avalanche. Paul manages to take shelter beneath a nearby overhanging rock and survives to grieve the loss. I have a feeling that the last half of the book will be just as bizzare.

Last night I finished reading Death by Black Hole by Neil deGrasse Tyson, which was a pleasant diversion from some of the heavier reading I’ve been doing lately. Tyson has a goofy sense of humor and does a good job presenting some very complex ideas to the layman (me!) Now if I can get back to regularly watching my science courses from Great Courses, some of this stuff (black holes, supernovas, anti-matter, and so forth) may start to make sense.

Part of the reason that I plowed through half of Iceland today is because I’m looking forward to reading some more great nonfiction. With my parents visiting in just over a week though, it seems to make sense to stick to light reading until they’re gone. For some reason I think my powers of concentration will be lessened by their proximity.

Tomorrow night Jen and I will be seeing Eddie Izzard perform at the Paramount downtown. We saw him do his Sexie tour a couple of years back and were disappointed. We had seen many of his previous shows on DVD and were impressed with his witty barbs aimed at politics and religion. The Sexie show lacked any of that wit and instead concentrated on Eddie’s recent acquisition of life-like removable fake breasts to wear beneath his clothing. I’ve read some of the reviews of the current tour and I’m excited to report that it sounds like he will be back to skewering religion with his humor and wit. I’m hoping for exceptional show, because Bill Maher happens to be performing the same evening, and I don’t want to walk away wishing I’d seen him instead.

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