Incendiary (1)

Chris Cleave

I figured I'd follow
Michelle's lead on jotting down mini-reviews of books she read last year. She's already two in so far this year and working on her third most likely, and so am I.

I think the last time I spent so much time "in" book-London was Zadie
Smith's "White Teeth." That may change once I check out Ian McEwan's
"Saturday" or Steven Johnson's "The Ghost Map."

Seeing "Children of Men" twice while reading the book affected how I
followed along with a fictional UK government's response to and
relationship with terror.

Books about cities, as much as about people, done right, send readers off with more questions than answers, and I'm not talking about hunting for travel agents or guidebooks. Said volumes pull you in before capturing the look on your face as they levitate in the air before you, asking you to consider the basis for support, plausibility's invisible strings connecting you to the finished plot on the page. That's what Chris Cleave's done here. (Start as you mean to go on with the extract.)


QotD: My First Gig

What was your very first job? 
Submitted by Laurel.

From age 13 to 17, I delivered a tiny, uninfluential paper no one's ever heard of to between sixty and sixty-five doorsteps along a few streets south and west of the Forest Glen Metro station in Silver Spring, Md.

My brother Erin helped me unbundle the stacks that a big gunmetal-gray cargo van would drop off at the end of our house's driveway. Then we'd put them into a cart and wheel them around through silent stretches of suburban street, lit by waning pools of lamplight. If it rained or snowed, we'd bag them in small plastic sleeves. My aim and control were ferocious. Most days, I could put a rolled-up, rubber-band-bound newspaper atop a penny on your welcome mat from your lawn's streetside curb.

Oh dude, but that one time I didn't? I was 14 or 15. It was winter. I was three doors away from the warmth of home and the satisfaction of another day done, and I'd heaved a color-slick ad-filled Sunday paper, safe in its sleeve, onto the left front edge of Mr. C——-'s porch. It landed like a dream. But then it kept going on sheer momentum and a sheet of half-melted ice. Then it tapped the thick sheet of fancy ribbed glass window beside the front door and the whole thing blew like a safecracker's wet dream.

I paid to replace the glass. And there must not've been too many hard feelings, because Mr. C——- hired me for a couple of summers afterward to tag along in his van on contracting jobs, lifting sheetrock and pounding nails and bracing ladders. I put on solid muscle, got a lot of paint on my overalls and listened to more than a little Shirley Caesar on a crackling radio.


“Superman Returns”

Pretty savior-centric, sis. You WILL believe Jesus is magic. When I could, I focused on the media over the message.

  • The kid with the cameraphone producing what Frank Langella-as-Perry White calls an "iconic" picture vs. poor Sam Huntington-as-Jimmy Olsen's vague blur-caps. Kevin Spacey-as-Lex Luthor's goons documenting the evil-that-they-do with video cameras.
  • Kate Bosworth-as-Pulitzer-Prize winning editorial writer Lois Lane) clearly bugging the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of Peta Wilson's spokeswoman with persistent questions about the shuttle launch, plus the one about why a single network was covering one particular related event.
  • A Daily Planet story meeting like none I've ever seen. And then, the next day? An elevator full of silent riders with their eyes glued to the newspaper.

Spacey? Scenery-chewing goodness from start to finish. Parker Posey? Not enough scenery left for her. Kal Penn? Screen time yay, but not a single word. Bosworth/Routh/Marsden? Bland. Marlon Brando? Surprisingly good for someone dead two years.