Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Blogkeeping post: reading rainbow edition

There is a new blog linked. I was a huge fan of Billmon's Whiskey Bar when I first started reading blogs regularly, just before we invaded Iraq.

The proprietor of said digital drinking establishment was trenchant and illuminating then, and now that he's back from hiatus, he remains so. Few skewer pretense and obfuscation better with just two or three well-chosen quotes. But his longer analyses are what keep me coming back. He just sees and writes through bullshit better than most of us. If he's not a daily read he should be.

I meant to post about two great rediscoveries I've had upon my return. I've recently been recording episodes of News Radio, a show I fell in love with when I first moved here, and watched in syndication sweltering in my sublet apartment on 36th Street five years ago. But I'm sure everyone is familiar with the brilliance of the show, and the corresponding tastiness of Maura Tierney.

I also recently re-read one of my favorite books, Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson. If you're an idiot like me, you've often foudn yourself at the beach staring at the horizon and wondered what was over it. After reading this again, I'll probably start considering what's beneath it as well.

Shadow Divers is not as high-minded as the fare my co-blogger has been pimping (think of us as the Maslin and Kakutani of the vegetable-based blog world), but it's incredible nevertheless. It's the best piece of non-fiction I've ever read, and not only because of the fascinating story. It's not too much to describe the plot at "two scuba divers become obsessed with finding the identity of a mysterious sunken German U-Boat."

The depths Kurson is able to plumb in the story's main characters, as well as the breadth of research he does on even the most minor actors in the story is inspiring. Driven by a shared passion for discovery that's stronger than they expected, John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, spend years diving the wreck of a sub that refuses to give up its identity. Did I mention that this wreck is 230 feet below the surface, and therefore a very dangerous place to dive? People die on dives like this.

Now, the location of a sunked WWII submarine isn't the sort of thing that causes textbooks to be torn up and republished but it sure as hell matters the people who were there, and to those whose sons, brothers and fathers were. I don't usually want to cry after reading about submarines, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't consider it on the E train the other day. Not bad for a beach read, right?

Kurson also manages to keep up the suspense throughout the book, a nice touch that plenty of non-fiction writers skip. I was planning for this to be a short review, with a longer, more comprehensive one to follow, but but in this heat, who fucking knows. A dip in the North Atlantic sounds like a great idea right about now.


CrimeNotes said...

The Billmon site is indeed a great one. We had it linked for awhile, then he disappeared. I've been reading it regularly since he's been back.

I sense that she's unfashionable, but I swear by Kakutani, and think your comparison is right on point.

Flop said...

My objections to Kakutani have nothing to do with fashionability. I just think she's boring.

Incidentally, my comparison of her to you has nothing to do with writing styles, but with sensibilities.