Friday, December 14, 2007

A Salty Piece of Land

The foot of snow outside has me thinking about warmer climates so in the spirit of that I thought I'd write about Jimmy Buffett's A Salty Piece of Land. We all know Buffett's music but you might not know that he's also written a few books, the most recent of which is the above mentioned. Like his other books and his music, this is pure escapism. Tully Mars is a cowboy on the lam who packs up his horse, Mr. Twain, and sets out for new adventures south of the border. In his travels he is befriended by lots of interesting characters, including the one I found most interesting, Cleopatra Highbourne, a 101 year old schooner captain. If this book were a movie Katherine Hepburn would be Cleopatra. He also becomes a fishing guide, is pursued by bounty hunters, restores an old lighthouse, and falls in love. There are way too many coincidences and "in the right (or wrong) place at the right time" instances for any of this to be a bit believable, but that's what escapism is all about. This is a fun read that makes me want to head south and meet people just like the people that Tully meets. A Salty Piece of Land, by Jimmy Buffett, is available in the Norton High School Library for anyone who wants to leave the snow behind for a few hours.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass, Book 1 of Philip Pullman's Dark Materials Trilogy, has been made into a movie and is being released this weekend so I thought this might be a good time to talk about it. These books were wildly popular in the late 90s and early 00s but I've only just recently gotten around to reading them and have yet to read The Amber Spyglass (Book 3). The Golden Compass is set in a world that is like ours, but also quite different, in which people are deeply connected to their Daemons, an external, animal manifestation of a soul. Lyra Belacqua is an eleven year old orphan being raised by the scholars and servants of Jordan College in the Oxford of her world. She spends her time playing war with her friend Roger and the other groups of children around Oxford, but all that changes when she overhears conversations about a mysterious substance called dust, and a group called the gobblers who are kidnapping children. After her friend Roger goes missing Lyra embarks on a journey to rescue him from the gobblers and learn more about dust. The alethiometer (golden compass) helps her on her quest. During her journey Lyra also learns about her parents and the existence of other worlds. I don't read a lot of fantasy but I really enjoyed the first two books and look forward to reading the third. Maybe I'll even see the movie during Christmas vacation. If you've read the book or see the movie, tell me what you think?