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Book 52 Completed

August 9, 2010

This isn’t going to be the longest and most thorough review. These next two days are crazy for me! I’ve procrastinated every single item of business for our Chicago trip — planning what we’re doing, calling my family, laundry, going to the bank, all the things I need to borrow, packing — until today and tomorrow. And then we’re off to the airport at 4:30am on Wednesday, toddler in tow, to try our hand at stand-by flying for the first time. (Our first flight is already overbooked…I’m not optimistic about making it. Thank goodness for portable DVD players and roughly 10 hours worth of Muppets and Sesame Street. Hey, if you’re the praying kind, could you start sending up prayers that Elliott sleeps on the flight?)

We need the stroller…to contain the child, seems reasonable…but the stroller puts us at one carry-on too many. Do you think they’ll notice? I think we can just check it at the last minute…but…man! There’s a lot to think about when you’re traveling across the country with a 20 month-old child. To top it all off: Matt’s job isn’t the kind where you just “take a week off” and call it good. He has to put out this week’s paper in advance AND get next week’s paper ready for press too (he fills his sports sections with features). So, he’s MIA until late tomorrow night.

Phew!

So…does that raise your blood pressure? It raises mine! Right. Because I hate flying. Or crashing. But either way.

Where does that leave us with book #52?

Well, (at the risk of sounding horribly repetitive — even THAT sounds repetitive — am I running out of original things to say?) From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey by Pascal Knoo Thwe was decent, but not the “page-turner” that the book jacket promised. It was a telling book (as in “tells” doesn’t “show”) — very similar to Long Way Gone — a chronological narrative about this man’s experiences growing up in Burma and in his role as a student/protestor/soldier during the 1980s. I didn’t know much about Burma’s fight for independence and so I feel like I learned something. But the writing leaves something to be desired. I mean…I don’t know how else you’d write a book like this, but it still felt plodding at times — and lacking in emotion where there should have been a “wallop” of an emotional punch.

Either way, Pascal’s life is tragic and redemptive. I’d be curious about what he’d say about the current state of his country — also, I always think it’s interesting when people reflect on how much better their lives were under colonialism. There were a few books in Africa that touched on that too; it’s a perspective we don’t expect and  (as Westerners) dismiss as politically-incorrect. I can’t comment on that from either a political or social standpoint, other than to say that before the reading challenge, I would have probably assumed that 100% of an inhabited population dreamed of the day they no longer lived under colonial rule and that is, simply, not the case — of course, when you read (like in this book) about the rampant corruption, it’s easy to see how one life seems preferable.

I also enjoyed reading about the Karen tribe a lot though because when I was in Thailand, we hiked five hours into the jungle to spend some time with a small tribe of Karens. At the time, I didn’t know much about this tribe, other than I was grateful for their hospitality. (The author isn’t Karen, but meets many people from this tribe as he travels.)

Okay, so, that’s about all I can say! I’m taking both my books for Laos and Thailand with me on vacation…as well as my book for Book Club. Optimism wins. I guess my dream goal of 60 books by September might not be too realistic, but I’m still happy with this late summer push.

Alright…my busy day commences.

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