>Housekeeping vs. The Dirt – Nick Hornby. Even better than The Polysyllabic Spree, and with an irresistable touch of “naughty boy” as Nick pondered one of the more disgusting lines from The Dirt. Thanks to Mr. Bybee for buying a magnifying glass while he was here. It’s just a cheap toy, but it did the job nicely. Thanks to Mr. Hornby for giving me lots of new fodder for my reading/book-buying wishlist. My hot lit-crush continues unabated; I found a copy of Fever Pitch this weekend. Nick, if you’re ever in Korea…
Brainiac – Ken Jennings. I was one of the people who tuned in week after week, watching in amazement as Ken Jennings kept winning at Jeopardy! Not only did he win every day, his matches were “runaways.” Although I was determined to go to Korea, at the last minute I felt extreme reluctance because Ken was still winning. Sad but true, he was one of the main topics in my first few phone calls back to the States.
Brainiac not only tells about Ken’s long, strange sojourn on Jeopardy!, it discusses his early interest in game shows and explores the history of quiz shows and America’s fascination with trivia. The quick wit, modesty and intelligence we glimpsed on those 75 unforgettable shows is also very much present in his writing. Ken offers up knowledge, trivial or otherwise, in the same gentle spirit of someone offering to let you have the first bite off the ears of their chocolate Easter bunny.
Luckily, I read this book before I went to Seoul last weekend. Ken grew up there, and he mentions in passing that Jeopardy! aired every afternoon at five-thirty on AFKN (now known as AFN). Guess what? It’s still airing! I gave Aaron the heads-up and we watched an episode, blissed out after months of no Jeopardy! in our lives. Thanks, Ken!
You Suck – Christopher Moore. This is the story of Jody, a young female vampire who’s in love with her 19-year-old minion and boyfriend, Tommy. Problem: He’s alive and she’s undead, so she fixes that. Tommy’s a little peeved at first, thinking Jody should’ve asked him before she turned him into “a foul, dead thing”, but they love each other and are determined to work through their problems, which are considerable. This couple is being chased by the cops, Tommy’s former co-workers, Elijah, the crusty old vampire who turned Jody and has decided that he wants her all to himself, and Blue, a hooker who decided to dye her skin blue as a career move. (Who knew that guys thought such things about Smurfette?) In spite of all this, there’s always time for a game or two of turkey bowling.
Jody and Tommy find another minion, Abby Normal, a 16-year-old Goth girl who is the true star of You Suck with her hilarious diary entries. Moore keeps things hopping plot-wise, but sometimes characters appear, are introduced and gone within a page or two, creating some confusion. In retrospect, I wish I’d first read Moore’s earlier novel, Bloodsucking Fiends, which details Jody’s early days as a vampire.
While in Seoul, I got the wild idea to catalog all the books I’ve acquired since I moved to Korea, so that’s been my big project since returning to Gumi yesterday. While it was geekily fun, I didn’t realize that it would be such an involved chore. When I showed up in Korea nearly 3 years and 3 months ago, I had 5 books with me. Now I’ve got over 300. I think the days of people feeling book-sorry/generous for the poor expat-bookworm Bybee are coming to a close. Anyway, you can check out my Korea collection here.