Sunday, 29 January 2012

A not-so-happy book for my happy list

ALL OF THE BOOKS I want to read. Ricardo Bougle via A Lovely Being.

I normally grunt and gesticulate with anger when I read yet another article in the paper about the short attention span (among other terrible problems) of Generation Y. As you've might have guessed, it pisses me off.

You should see me talk about books. I can mouth off for hours about the awesomeness of Jenny Crusie, about how genre books are the backbone of literature, the mysterious reason why fairytale retellings always seem to have a secret magic ingredient that makes them great (Daughter of the Forest, Cinder, Entwined, Ember, just to name a few).

Talking or reading fiction books can hold my attention for days at a time.

But when it comes to non-fiction books, it hurts my soul that I can't really deny these scurrilous accusations. I recently started reading The Hare with the Amber Eyes, and I won't hesitate to tell you that it was awesome. Unfortunately, I stopped around a third in, because it had taken me a week to get that far. Seeing as it normally takes me a couple of days to finish a book (HUMBLEBRAG), you know that's a problem.

So when I bash through my mental block about non-fiction and FINISH a non-fiction book, you just know it's going to be added to my happy pile.

Andrew Mueller's I Wouldn't Start From Here is a book I turn to when I want to be entertained. It also makes me want to be a better/funnier person (can I be both, or do I have to decide on one?). This guy has been a roving journalist since the early 90s, and has covered wars from Iraq to Eritrea, and U2 concerts in what seems to be every country of the world.

You see, Mr Mueller hasn't really decided whether he wants to be a music journo or a political hack – and so he does both. The book is sort of a short history of the 21st century so far, and it's not pretty. Mueller doesn't hesitate to make fun of people he thinks are acting like morons (read: everyone), and he will always go for the cheap gag.

He probably has what people would call an Australian sense of humour, which means he's an equal opportunity humorist – he'll even make fun of himself, given half a second.

Written as a sort of loosely connected set of essays, with the overriding theme of everyone is behaving stupidly in the 21st century, the only problem I have with Mueller's book (apart from his musings on girlfriends) is the almost twee links between the chapters. Seriously, read this book and see if you can guess what country/war/dilemma is coming next based on Mueller's links *fun game alert*!

But whatever, every book has problems. What this book doesn't have is 99 of them (see what I did there?). All it does it have is the man-balls to be entertaining, thoughtful, incisive, insightful and bloody funny.

That's why I Wouldn't Start From Here is on my happy list. Although it might be a little bit wrong to have a book about so many horrible things on this list ... a discussion for another time! 

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