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Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Writer's Life 2/5 - Another Yogi

Most of the works donated to the floating book shop are popular fiction, usually of the mystery/thriller genre. I sample one book from each of those authors to try and understand their appeal. Many are so similar. I long for something different. Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel certainly fit the bill. It is an imaginative, wild, multi-character ride through dysfunction, set a few years after the hanging chad election of Dubya. The plot revolves around the leader of a sort of cult that fights the sense of alienation even humans in family situations occasionally feel. It has reached epidemic proportions in the narrative. It's a great theme I certainly relate too. I've felt like an outsider all my life and it is extremely hard for me to let anyone get close. Unfortunately, I found the novel unsatisfying. I had difficulty with the style. Although the vocabulary is impressive, I often found the choice of words puzzling. And the story is all over the place and almost entirely bleak. Woke Up Lonely received glowing reviews when it was published in 2013. Whenever I read a book I don't get, I wonder if it's for people smarter than me. That was the case here. Although the author is obviously talented, the tale lacks cohesion, but there are many good moments. Here are two interesting highlights. "...They don't want to succeed. Because if they did, they couldn't be radicals anymore, and a radical is most interested in his sense of being a radical." Although the novel has a liberal bias, that comment seems to describe perfectly those violently protesting President Trump at present. One of the characters is often in disguise. At one points she makes this droll observation: "... I was a Western woman wanting to look like a Korean who wanted to look Western." If there is an overall point to Woke Up Lonely other than the disconnect between people, I missed it. Since I'm so unsure of the worth of it, I'll render only the stats at Amazon, where 46 users forge to a consensus of three on a scale of five. Its appeal is geared to those who appreciate the odd and quirky. I was reminded of Thomas Pynchon's V, which was an even tougher read. Woke Up Lonely came seven years after Maazel's debut, Last Last Chance. The synopsis of that novel indicates it is as wacky as her second. If so, I understand the gap between her books. They must be very hard to write. Maazel lives in Brooklyn and teaches at NYU, Brooklyn College, Columbia and Princeton.  

Its rare for me to talk about basketball, but occasionally something fascinating happens in either college or the NBA that merits mention. The Brooklyn Nets are the league's worst team. Their record is 9-42. The next worst team, the Phoenix Suns, has 16 wins. When things go bad, erroneous decisions seem egregious. Management gave up twice on a guy named Yogi, Ferrell that is, a six-foot guard out of Indiana, who has become a success story. He wasn’t selected in last June’s draft. He landed with Brooklyn for the Summer League and was waived during training camp. He was re-signed when the Nets suffered injuries in November and played 10 games, but was waived again in December. He is now averaging 17.8 points, five assists and three rebounds while shooting 52 percent from three-point range in 37.5 minutes per game for Dallas. He was called on when the Mavericks' other point guards were injured. Would they too have not realized his talent had the opportunity not arisen? Who knows? Kudos, kid.

And here's an incredible event from the college ranks. Down two with 3.2 seconds remaining, St. Bonaventure had the ball out of bounds at the baseline. Junior guard Matt Mobley hit an awkward-looking, contested 3-pointer for the win - or so it seemed. Bonnies' players and managers spilled out onto the court. Fans followed, although the clock still showed 0.4. After a lengthy review, the referees assessed St. Bonaventure a technical foul for the premature celebration. VCU’s JeQuan Lewis made the free throw to send the game to overtime. The Rams then caught fire, scoring 17 points in OT to win. Kudos to the officials for making the right call in hostile territory. Court-storming has become a ridiculous - and occasionally dangerous - aspect of college BB. Karma won the day in this case. Unfortunately, the practice will probably continue.

My thanks to the young lady who purchased a Lisa Jackson thriller, the only sale of the day. Now it's off to the annual Super Bowl bash at a friend's. Let's eat!
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