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Better Things To Do

My excuse for sitting around all day being nervous, clicking around, watching TV, etc., is that it's my job to follow politics. What's your excuse? Answer -- you don't have one. Stop reading this blog and other blogs, none of us have anything interesting to say. Go do your real job. If you don't have a job to do now, might I suggest you pick up The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. I haven't quite finished it yet, but it's very, very, very good. Easily the best novel I've read in a few years (though, in truth, I don't read that many novels). I liked the Wonderboys movie, too, so I should probably buy the book. Just remember -- life goes on no matter what happens and you can always console yourself with the thought that you're not stuck in the tundra with a bunch of dead guys and an old World War One ace. Things could be worse.

November 2, 2004 | Permalink


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Go do your real job.

OK. My employer thanks you for the advice.

Posted by: Al | Nov 2, 2004 10:09:02 AM

Related advice from London's The Guardian for obsessive UK pollwatchers "5am-6am GMT: Alaska, the last state to close its polls, will go to Bush. If Bush has a lead but Kerry is three votes short, do not sit up expecting the result to hinge on Alaska. Go to bed."

Posted by: mark s | Nov 2, 2004 10:21:10 AM

The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is fantastic.

[I read it in Prague for extra-Golem-tastic poignancy...]

Wonderboys is pretty good too, but not as good as Kavalier and Clay. The film is pretty faithful to it though, so if you like the film, you'll like the book.

Posted by: Matt McGrattan | Nov 2, 2004 10:22:23 AM

In my effort not to think about the election today (now that I've voted), let me recommend Wonderboys the novel, which I liked better than Kavalier and Clay. The movie is pretty good, but the ending was kind of different--the ending in the book is a lot better and less Hollywood.

Read it--after you vote.

Posted by: Robert Boyd | Nov 2, 2004 10:22:27 AM

I'm going to read your blog now just to annoy you. ;)

Posted by: David | Nov 2, 2004 10:36:15 AM

Kavalier & Clay is amazing. After that book, go right to "Everything is Illuminated" They made me happy.

Posted by: Kermit | Nov 2, 2004 10:42:54 AM

If you have nothing else to do than click on blogs, do what I'm about to do. Go to the local Democratic Headquarters and volunteer. Leave the novels until the fate of the free world has been decided.

Posted by: Hugh Hermanos | Nov 2, 2004 10:58:04 AM

Sorry to ruin it, but while the first half of Kavalier and Clay is brilliant, it doesn't hold up by the end.

Posted by: the fish | Nov 2, 2004 11:01:02 AM

Chabon has also released some Escapist comic books if you're interested. They're about $10 and 80 pages long. I think 4 issues are out now and each has a handful of stories. Chabon wrote a few of them himself.

In other comic related news, Hal Jordan is back, baby, back!

Posted by: bg | Nov 2, 2004 11:21:06 AM

It is a great book, but as the fish says, the end is a bit weak. Well worth reading though. A fantastic riff on how America invented itself.

I did gotv in Wisconsin & some call center work. Wish I could have done more. But I'm excited. I usually vote mid-morning 'cause there's no one there, and this time there was a line.

Posted by: larry birnbaum | Nov 2, 2004 11:22:50 AM

My excuse for reading this and other blogs:

I am in a boring deposition and they have internet access.

Posted by: eric | Nov 2, 2004 11:37:28 AM

Is it bad to be not a fan of reading the book after seeing the movie? I can understand some circumstances, for example a long classic, where the movie version clearly has to be abridged, and which you've been avoiding reading from childhood simply b/c it's part of "the cannon" and the idea of reading it feels like eating your vegetables, I can understand where a well-made movie might inspire you to read the book. But in general--read the book first--or just read the book. I don't think you get the same full experience of language and imagination if you've already seen a movie. Since you know what's going on, you tend to consolidate, just focus on the plot, and not pay the same attention to actually experiencing the text.

btw, I'm checking out blogs today b/c it is sort of related to my job, my boss is doing it too, and tonight when folks actually do know something, I'll be busy rehearsing a play I'm in and totally devoid of access to blogs or CNN, which I think is probably in the best interests of my sanity anyway.

Posted by: flip | Nov 2, 2004 12:03:19 PM

I saw the movie Wonder Boys first and then read the book, and while I liked both, I think I enjoyed the movie more. Call me crazy, but the book made the drug use by Tripp and the others seem overwhelming.

Posted by: Brian | Nov 2, 2004 12:12:17 PM

While nobody knows anything useful yet, there is some interesting commentary going on about what happens next. From Jeff Jarvis, via Andrew Sullivan, there's this:

"The Post-Election Peace Pledge

: I take this pledge (inspired by a few of the posts below below):

After the election results are in, I promise to:
: Support the President, even if I didn't vote for him.
: Criticize the President, even if I did vote for him.
: Uphold standards of civilized discourse in blogs and in media while pushing both to be better.
: Unite as a nation, putting country over party, even as we work together to make America better.

What did I miss?

Care to take the pledge?"

Posted by: Meghan | Nov 2, 2004 12:18:43 PM

"Brick Lane" by Monica Ali, about a Bangladeshi village woman who is married off and moves to London. It doesn't get any better than this. All the classic immigrant themes: old vs. young; old country vs. new country; men vs. women; etc.; etc.; etc. And beautifully written.

Posted by: ostap | Nov 2, 2004 12:23:05 PM

Kavalier and Clay is a good option -- long enough and dense enough to hold one's interest. I read it a while ago, so instead I'm giving Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell a try. Also long, dense, and engrossing.

Other options:

Go to work. Once there, close your damn browser!
Take your kid(s) to the zoo, aquarium, park, legoland, etc.
Go for a hike. (More feasible in some parts of the country than in others.)
Start a new woodworking/knitting/home repair project.
Organize the spice cupboard.

Posted by: janet | Nov 2, 2004 12:24:17 PM

C'mon Matt. If we did, you'd be out of a job!

Posted by: Adrock | Nov 2, 2004 12:51:46 PM

Better things to do? Well heck, I found some.

This morning at 8 o'clock, my two shepherds were insulted by a cat, and went thru the wooden fence in defense of their honor, Granted, not the best maintained fence, but solid enough, tho i guess not for 150 pounds of offended shepherd. They tore three slats off their nails. One came back, but the female decided the rain would not deter her from exploring on trash-pickup day. So I followed her in the rain for an hour and a half til I got the leash on her, then came back and repaired the fence while standing in the rain.

Then I found out Tom DeLay had stolen my congressional district, and I could gain no satisfaction by re-electing Martin Frost.

I consider all this a good omen for Kerry.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Nov 2, 2004 12:56:15 PM

jesus, you're right - i've been clicking around frantically for two hours now for no reason at all. no more politics until tonight, when i can watch the festivities with a glass of whisky. i got work to do!

Posted by: st | Nov 2, 2004 12:58:48 PM

re: the peace pledge

It may as well have been written by Bush's campaign. What they want us to do is accept their rampant illegality meekly. I won't.

Posted by: Marshall | Nov 2, 2004 1:21:11 PM

I agree with the fish, I loved the first three quarters of the book but thought it fizzled out at the end.

Posted by: Greg | Nov 2, 2004 2:18:21 PM

I am self-employed.

And why do parents pace the recovery room waiting for a child in surgery instead of going about their business?

Gee, Matt, I wonder.

Posted by: epistemology | Nov 2, 2004 2:32:21 PM

I'm home sick today. And I've already read "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay."

Great book.

Posted by: DrBB | Nov 2, 2004 2:39:41 PM

Matt, if you like Kavalier and Clay, you might like Glen David Gold's Carter Beats the Devil (which features no Siegel & Shuster/Lee and Ditko references, but does feature extensive guest appearances by Warren Harding and Harry Houdini).

Posted by: Steve | Nov 2, 2004 3:21:27 PM

Thanks for the hint, Matt - the one about Chabon, that is.

Good God, I last read Chabon when I was 19 and even penned a review of "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" for the little artsy-fartsy paper me and my friends were publishing at the time. Glad to hear he seems to be still going strong.

I'm gonna sit out the night here, but the Guardian is probably right about Alaska.

Posted by: novakant | Nov 2, 2004 5:10:07 PM

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