Monday, March 22, 2010

One For My Baby

Progress on my 2010 Reading List has been slow-going.

Here we are in late-March (already?!) and I've only completed 1.5 books out of the 12 on my list.

I could toss around justifiable and sound excuses as to why I haven't made swifter progress, but I won't.  Let's not go down the excuses road.  I'll just admit: I haven't made much time for reading.  I'll see if I can (gently) correct that, going forward. 

Because you know what? Reading is important.

It's the one thing that separates us from the animals.  Well, that and our ability to accessorize.  (Name that movie!!)

* * *

The one title I have been able to cross off my Reading List thus far is Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell.

I enjoyed this book of essays.  It wasn't as laugh-out-loud funny as David Sedaris' writing, but the essays were entertaining and informative and illuminated slices of American life that I don't often get to peek into.  Such as cannon construction, San Fran goth culture, Cherokee memorials, a historically significant intersection in Chicago, and the insomniacal schedule of a freelance journalist.

The book was published in 2000; the essays were written throughout the nineties.  This was cause for some nostalgia on my part, as a lot has changed since then.  The gritty (read: dirty) Chelsea Hotel that Vowell visited in the early nineties still reeked of the punks, poets, ghosts, and folk singers that it hosted in the sixties.  It was still a haven for the poor artist, the drifter, the runaway.  Nowadays, for better or worse (and many argue, worse) the hotel has gone the route of gentrification, cleaned up its act, and become something of a hipster tourist attraction.

And then there were the essays about Mr. Frank Sinatra. Penned before his passing, I found these to be bittersweet relics of a bygone era - a time when you could write "Frank is..." instead of "Frank was..."

I finished the essay "These Little Town Blues" on the subway one morning - it was about Hoboken, Frank, and the relationship of each to Manhattan.  After reading the last word, I sighed, flipped the pages back, and immediately started reading it again.  Good stuff.

Vowell hit the nail on the head when she wrote, "Who says happiness never comes cheap? A jukebox stocked with Sinatra can turn your world around." (p. 79)

I agree.  Many a time I have self-medicated with Sinatra music - his voice puts the spring back in my step, the smile back on my face, the bee back in my bonnet, the birdhouse back in my soul.  Or something to that effect.

So to sum up, I liked Take the Cannoli plenty fine.  And I'm looking forward to diving in to the other eleven books on my list. Post-haste!

PS - In other Sinatra news, have you heard the latest that Leonardo DiCaprio is set to play Ol’ Blue Eyes in an upcoming Scorcese flick about Frank? I don’t know how I feel about this. I just don’t know.

No comments: