Housekeeping Vs. The Dirt by Nick Hornby
This is the sequel to The Polysyllabic Spree, Nick Hornby’s previous compilation of his Believer columns about books. I’ve extolled his columns before in a previous book log, but I’ll state it again: I love, love, love his columns about reading.
So, imagine my surprise when I discovered I had forgotten I wasn’t done with this book. I was crawling around on the floor with Scout the other night and noticed it on the table beside the couch, with the built-in cover bookmark at the halfway point. “How odd,” I said to myself, “that I should have put the book away with the bookmark still in the book instead of folded back into the cover!” I opened it at the mark and read a bit and realized I’d put the book down, gotten distracted by a shiny object, and forgot that there was still some left to go.
Really, it’s like finding $20 in the pocket of a little-used jacket.
The preface is a witty diatribe against book snobbery:
But what’s proper? Whose books will make us more intelligent? Not mine, that’s for sure.
Hornby and I have two books-read in common this time, Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation and Levitt’sFreakanomics. He’s purchased The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup by Susan Orlean, but it languishes on the shelf. I kind of don’t blame him, her essays are a little bit… I dunno. Opaque? I’m not sure what I’m trying to say.
Sarah Vowell is mentioned numerous times, largely because they are friends (“I should own up here and say that Sarah Vowell used to be a friend, back in the days when she still spoke to people who weren’t sufficiently famous to warrant animation”). Several book recommendations come from her, and when mentioned in the later half of the book, he refers to her exclusively as Violet Incredible.
Assassination Vacation is the first of the inevitable Incredibles cash-ins– Sarah Vowell, as some of you may know, provided the voice of Violet Parr in The Incredibles, and has chosen to exploit the new part of her fame by writing a book about the murders of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. See, I don’t know how good an idea this is, from the cash-in angle. Obviously I’m over here in London, and I can’t really judge the appetite for fascinating facts about the Garfield presidency among America’s preteens, but I reckon Vowell might have done better with something more contemporary– a book about the Fair Deal, say, or an analysis of what actually happened at Yalta.
He also reveals that he was the English Nick mentioned in one of her essays in Assassination. Incestuous!
High-larious. I eagerly await the next one.