Friday, May 22, 2009

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

I read about this book in TIME magazine and thought it sounded interesting. It's a biography of Percy H. Fawcett, a Victorian-era explorer who was obsessed with finding the lost city of Z, or El Dorado, in the Amazon. He led several expeditions into the Amazon, and disappeared there in 1925.

It's pretty interesting, I especially liked the parts about how the Indians have adapted to live in the rain forest which, it seems, is actively trying to kill all it's inhabitants. My favorite bit was when they talked about how certain Indians could whistle worms out of your skin, like a really gross snake charmer.

In finding the image of the book, I stumbled upon a website that told me they were making it into a movie with Brad Pitt starring as Colonel Fawcett.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Intense. This book, if made into a movie, would probably be rated 'R' for strong thematic elements and sexuality. This is number 3 in my attempt to read more... I was going to say 'adult books' but that sounds inappropriate. How about 'grown-up books'?

On the back of the book, one of the reviews compares it to some sort of Grey's Anatomy season finale, but better. I've never seen that show, but I think that's probably a good analysis. Marion Praise Stone and his twin brother Shiva are born to a nurse-nun living in Ethopia, sired by the head surgeon at the hospital, who abandons the children. The book follows Marion and Shiva as they grow up, mess up, and then figure it out. A lot of the book deals with their teen aged years, which, I'm pretty sure, were drastically different than my own, morally speaking. There's also a hefty dose of civil war.

If you choose to read this book, I want to give one spoiler: Shiva survives birth. The author hints that this is the case, but as Dr. Stone was poised to crush his skull when he was stuck in the birth canal, I got really really nervous.

In all, I can see why this book was recommended by NPR, the writing was really good, it was witty at parts, touching at others, but it had too much sex for me.

And, I'm still not 100% sure what the phrase "cutting for stone" means. I get that it's some sort of saying or maxim and that by using it as the title, the author is playing on the fact that the dad is a surgeon and his last name is Stone... but the pithiness of it is lost on me.