Monday, December 31, 2007

Year End, Best of Brouhaha

I figured I'd get myself in on some of this year-end, favorites action. Of course, this is all meaningless because I haven't made anything even close to a comprehensive examination in these topics. But, here goes:

Books: On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan; The Yiddish Policeman's Union, by Michael Chabon; Then We Came to the End, by Joshua Ferris

Albums: The Stage Names - Okkervil River; The Shepherd's Dog - Iron & Wine; Floratone - Floratone (see below); Reunion Tour - The Weakerthans

Movies: (the least comprehensive of categories because I'm usually about a year behind on releases) Ratatouille. 

When I checked the list of movies that have been released this year, I realized I had no right at all to be doing this category. The list of movies I want to see is far longer than the list of movies I've seen (No Country for Old Men, Zodiac, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood, When the Wind Shakes the Barley, etc.). Ah well. Maybe I'll do my Favorite Movies of 2007 in 2008. And eventually, when the kids are older, I'll be able to see movies in the actual year they're released.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Abstinence Teacher

I finished this book about a month ago, but I've avoided writing about it because of my general sense of disappointment. I've loved the other Tom Perrotta books I've read, especially Little Children. With The Abstinence Teacher, Perrotta was shooting for the same mark, but didn't quite get there. He certainly has suburban America down cold and he knows how to create sympathetic characters who might normally be difficult to like.

The big problem with The Abstinence Teacher was that both the situation and the characters felt contrived. With both the sex ed teacher who is forced to teach abstinence and the born again, recovering addict, the decisions they made felt more convenient to the story than authentic to the character. Top that off with an unsatisfying ending, and I'm left wondering if the movie version will be able to rescue this novel.