The Other Side

I don't only read fantasy and science fiction. I think that's a good thing, to read outside of one's preferred genre. Keeps things fresh. Keeps things interesting. You get a view of how things are done elsewhere (setting doesn't matter as much in some genres as it does in sff where many call it another character in the novel). And you get a view of how things are changing there, maybe something you can use in your own work as well.

For me, when I'm not reading sff, I usually turn to a biography. Jerry Lewis' DEAN AND ME, Steve Martin's BORN STANDING UP, Craig Ferguson's AMERICAN BY CHOICE (a much more solid offering than his fiction BETWEEN THE BRIDGE AND THE WATER1), and more. Some are awesome (see Ferguson). Some are completely self-serving (see Lewis). Some are a train wreck of good intentions (see Meghan McCain's DIRTY SEXY POLITICS). Currently, Russel Brand's first autobiography, MY BOOKY WOOKY. I tend to lean toward performers rather than historical, political, or military figures, who so often make up the bulk of the biography section. I like to see how they were drawn to their art, how they suffered, and how they overcame (if they did). Artists often tend to leave off a lot of the polish. Even with Jerry Lewis writing about how he and Dean Martin loved each other to the very end, he speaks on infidelity and ties to the mob.

With Russell Brand, his fiction follows a consciousness delivery much like his stand-up. Tangents come and go and you have to hold on for the ride. I love the book already because he makes a statement that perfectly sums up my childhood as well. "I was awake as a child." It's such a profound statement that people have trouble understanding unless they lived it. I made the local news when I was in kindergarten. My school did a balloon release2, and I was one of a handful of students whose balloons were found first. They interviewed the larger kids first, so I heard the kind of questions they were going to ask. I was prepared with a cogent, intelligent response, but when they asked me my question, I stuck my finger in my mouth and twisted in place, looking horribly cute. Of course, the entire time, I'm screaming in my mind "WHAT ARE YOU DOING" like some guy at the helm of a spaceship, the controls not responding, the circuit boards sparking, and the ship setting course for the closest star.

I was awake as a child.

I don't think I would have ever heard, I don't think I would have ever articulated that experience if I had not read Russell Brand's MY BOOKY WOOKY. Thanks for that Russell. It's a good read.