Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Color of a Story

Well, it's been kind of dull around here.

One cat is on a diet. So it's dull for the cats, too. They sit around, staring at me, waiting for me to fill the trough. The frail cat looks at the fat one with an especially hateful glare. You're the reason we're in this fix!

Not even the Finished Book Pile has been that scintillating.

First up:August by Gerard Woodward, the story of a kind of a quiet, ordinary, got-our-problems family, who vacations every summer in a farmer's field in Wales.

Excitement-wise, it's kind of a brown story, a light beige-brown. The jacket copy proclaims Woodward's book (this is the first in a trilogy) full of deadpan wit. I've told you before that I need my wit just a little bit wet, or else it slips right by my wit-detector. Nevertheless, I stuck with the story. I wouldn't want to be the main characters Aldous and Colette or their four (or five?) children, but I was curious enough to follow them through the years.

In a particularly quirky twist of the story, Colette develops an odd habit. Today, there would be a 1-800-get-help line they could call, but back in the '60s, nobody had come up with that sort of thing yet.

No cow patties (except the real ones in that Welsh farmer's field).

Next up, we have In Between Places by Rory Stewart. The author, a Scottish journalist, walks across Afghanistan, the unluckiest land on this entire earth. He starts his journey two weeks after the U.S. threw over the Taliban. The new government provided "guides" to accompany him, but Stewart did his best to lose them.

Personally, I would have gone farther down the list of countries and chosen to walk across somewhere like Austria. Still, he made me want to walk to the grocery store, to church, to Wal-Mart; to get the little granny shopping cart that goes with these jaunts.

My daughters poke fun at my "granny cart" dreams. But the kind of people who roll these things into Whole Foods call it a "shopping trolley." See? Not so uncool anymore! Say it with me now: SHOPPING TROLLEY. And stop that snickering.

But anyway, back to Stewart. I'm sure there are interesting things to know about Afghanistan. And his journey was certainly a daring one. He was just about to head into some Himalaya-high mountains, snowy mountains mind you, and I thought I ought to stick with him, just to lend him moral support.

But then he announced that he'd been wearing the same socks for eight days. This killed off my already-faint interest in Stewart and the unluckiest country in the world. I left him to tackle the snowy mountains all by himself.

I guess this book had a color to it too: dirty white.

Thankfully, next up we have a pink book. Literally. The cover is pink. You know a pink book will be easy to read. The Aqua-Net Diaries by Jennifer Niven is a memoir of growing up in Richmond, Indiana, and dreaming of the day when she can escape her dull hometown.

Niven's great at explaining the social castes of Richmond, the dizzy excitement of a first boyfriend, the hunger of driving around on Friday night, looking for something to do. Oh, she found it all right. They drank. They smoked a little pot. They cut class now and then and sped all the way to Dayton, Ohio, for lunch. No mention of how dangerous the speed or the beer or the pot might have been. It was all good memories, according to her.

Since leaving Richmond, Niven has been busy writing, selling movie options and taming her massive '80s hair.

It was an OK read. No cow patties, just "normal" teenage mischief.

As for your recipe, perhaps you, like the cats, are on a diet and would die for something tasty to break up the dullness of your dinner hour. You can try:

Jiffy Jambalaya