Monday, February 6, 2017

Knock Down the Doors, Blow Open the Minds

The Doors of PerceptionThe Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This must've blown minds when it came out. Now though, it's lost its edge.

Full disclosure, I'm here because of The Doors...of the Jim Morrison sort. Being a HUGE fan of him and the band, I absorbed all I could of them back during my teens. I even read his poetry. Hell, I even read William Blake's poetry, simply because it apparently influenced Morrison. However, I never did get around to reading Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception , the book title from which the band was named. WHAT THE HELL KIND OF A FAN AM I?!?!?!

Well, the reasons for me not getting to it until now are even more boring and inconsequential than this sentence. The point is, I've finally read the damn book. I needn't have bothered. It's pretty much what I figured it would be and there's nothing within it I needed to know.

Backstory: Bookish brainiac Huxley decided to try out the cactus drug peyote. In The Doors... he describes his trip. It's not half as interesting or entering as I'd hoped. (Here's a more entertaining, though less enlightening example:

Nowadays this stuff is so commonplace as to make this book almost quaint. And the parts that aren't outdated, are just not interesting enough to make this a winner in my book. In fact, Huxley spends so much time, too many pages imo, on art and artists that I began to doubt the need for a book on the topic. I mean, if you've got to use filler in a 60 page novette, the book probably could've just been a lengthy article or pamphlet. I get the connection he's trying to make between the artist mind and that of one on mind-altering drugs, it's just that I don't find it all that enthralling.

Still and all, this has its value. Some of the points Huxley makes herein are still valid. He was clearly an intelligent, well-read man. I guess I just didn't have the same mind-expanding experience as Morrison had when reading this.

View all my reviews

Plus-Sized Laughs

Dad Is FatDad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After recently reading Jim Gaffigan's gastronomically good read Food: A Love Story, I decided to go on a mini Gaffigan binge.

As you might guess from the title, Dad Is Fat is about Gaffigan's home life and the travails of becoming a parent. It follows chronologically from him and his wife as a free-and-easy, no-kids couple to having five children all crammed into a tiny apartment.

I related to the no-kids couple, I laughed at some of the parenthood ridiculousness and I enjoyed every part of this book. I just didn't love it. I hoped for hilarity, but got more subtle ha-has instead.

Here's a sampling:

“Whenever one of my children says, 'Goodnight, Daddy,' I always think to myself, 'You don't mean that.”

“I used to wonder why I had hair on my legs, but now I know it's for my toddler sons and daughters to pull themselves up off the ground with as I scream in pain.”

“Look, you lost a tooth. Congratulations. Enjoy looking like a hillbilly. Here’s a dollar...”

“I don't know what's more exhausting about parenting: the getting up early, or acting like you know what you're doing.”

Yeah, there are a lot of one-liners. He is a stand-up comedian after all. However, Gaffigan does a nice job of setting up and exploring his topic, at least a little better than just tossing off zingers. No, this won't replace the What To Expect... series for folks looking to bone up on childrearing, but did you really think that's what you'd find between the pages of a book with this title?

Rating: 3.5

View all my reviews