One for the Car, One for the Briefcase, One for the Chair

. . .and a couple by the bed. I’d like to say, “on the nightstand,” but in fact they’re on the floor.

My car book was the new classic science fiction novel Out on Blue Six. Out on Blue Six is not a good car book. It deserves more attention, more sustained attention, than it gets when I pick it up once in a while for ten or fifteen minutes, or pull it out of the back when I’m on the road somewhere and decide to stop for lunch. So I will probably rotate Out on Blue Six into chair duty.

I’ll replace it with one of the Simon Green Nightside books. It won’t matter which one. The stories all follow the same pattern, they’re short, they are not complicated; they have many funny bits and they don’t ask for a lot of emotional investment. The biggest emotional hook is curiosity about John Taylor’s past. Is that the perfect car book or what?

My current briefcase book is The Least Worst Place; the First 100 Days of Guantanamo, by Karen Greenberg. It’s about the first three months of Gitmo as a holding place for “detainees” of the Afghanistan war. My briefcase book gets slightly more attention than a car book, but sometimes I have to pull it out of the briefcase and read it in the chair. With The Least Worst Place, by page 37 I was transfixed. Greenberg weaves a narrative of two groups of people on a collision course with each other; Bush staff at the Pentagon who are working diligently to circumvent any chance of these “detainees” being treated humanely or in accordance with international law, and the boots-on-the-ground Marines who have been sent to ready Gitmo and told that, with regards to the incoming detainees, the Marines should consider themselves “guided by Geneva [Conventions] but not bound by it.” In this vacuum of direction, a Marine general makes decisions that place him squarely at odds with Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon. We know how it ends—or at least we are starting to find out how it ends. What is suspenseful is how these men will keep their own values and honor intact in this environment.

I may have to promote it to being a chair book too.

My chair book is The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano. I started it in January. I’m halfway through. It’s not that long. It’s starting to look like a great briefcase book. I mean, I’m liking it, but it’s episodic enough that maybe the briefcase, or the car, would make a good fit.

Also by the chair: The Given Day, Dennis Lehane; The Life and Times of Henry VIII, Robert Lacey, 2666 by Roberto Bolano. Coming soon to the chair; Whisper to the Blood, by Dana Stabenow, and coming to the chair as soon as it’s out; Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? by Brian Fies.

By the bed: Gentlemen of the Road, by Michael Chabon (finished); Passage, by Connie Willis (finished); Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, and Hellboy: Wake the Devil, by Mike Mignolia.

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