Saturday, 16 February 2013

Took the week off --In the sunny south


Good morning folks,

I didn't work the past week, except for Monday.  Instead headed south for a few days in the sunny Dominican Republic.

I don't think that my pulps have ever included a book review..  nope, quite certain of it.  I tend not to read too much fiction, largely because such work annoys me.

I don't mind someone telling me a story that they made up, but the story should at least be possible, I understand the difference between fantasy and fiction, I just don't think that some writers, and apparently their publishers, do.

I am likely okay with a work of fiction that starts out with explaining that it takes place in another universe with a different set of laws of physics, or all in the mind of someone that is desperately trying to make sense of subjected events using whatever interpretations available..  sure.

But here is my problem, I picked up two books in an airport book store on our way out of Toronto and on our way to the Dominican Republic; Ishmael Beah A Long Road Gone - Memoirs of a child soldier, and Chuck Palahniuk Dammed.

I had previously read Canadian Senator and General Roméo Dallaire's Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children (Foreward by Ishmael Beah).  The General's book is divided into two parts, the first detailing the capture/recruiting and indoctrination of children into soldiering, and secondly the challenges for conventional military forces in combatting children soldiers and the political process of working to eliminate the use of children in warfare.

While head of the U.N. Peacekeeping mission in Rwanda. The General and his ranks faced head on the duties of protecting one's self and charges, and the emotional toll of firing on children advancing with automatic weapons.

Ishmael Beah's book tells his own life's story from child in Sierra Leone though the turmoil of that country's political upheaval and civil wars.  Bael was separated from his parents and family, and survived for months in the wilderness only to be eventually 'recruited' by the army to fight against the RUF, the revolutionary forces.

Baeh recounts how normal shooting, torturing, even beheading a captive became and only through the tireless work of UNECEF staff and volunteers did he become separated from soldiering and become rehabilitated back to child.

I recommend both Dallaire's and Baeh's books as the two definitive works on the subject of child soldiers.

And then there is Dammed.

Fiction.

I picked up this book and started reading.  Right away the main character, I presume the protagonist explains that her death (and subsequent descent into Hell) was the result of a marijuana overdose. !?!

A what?, I may of said out loud.   What the hell is a marijuana overdose?  Nobody dies from a marijuana overdose.  I put the book down.

Friends, let me explain.  People die from alcohol, some right away from alcohol poisoning at their high school dance, others from years of slowly destroying their liver.  Junkies can OD on heroin, Guys driving over financed Ferraris and strung out hookers can check out from heart attack or brain hemorrhages induced by cocaine, BUT NO ONE dies from marijuana.

Okay, one can die from doing dumb things while on the stink, like choking on a slice of pepperoni pizza or at the hands of another after incessantly calling him 'dude' but not from the weed itself.

The CDC lists that 37,000 die in the US each year from alcohol, but doesn't even have a category for pot deaths. Even as recent as 1988 Judge Francis Young declared after a lengthy investigation of all data available, "Marijuana is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man."

Yeah, the DEA and Congress ignored him.

But friends, I may be mistaken.  Although my first impulse was to not read this book, this Dammed book, might indeed be dammed funny.  I flipped through some pages this AM, and Palahniuk's description of Hell including the horrible call centre, sea of insects and Ann Coulter references has got my attention.

I guess it just goes to show you, you can't judge a book by its cover or the first page.

Meanwhile, Sharlene's and my trip to the south is just what the we needed, a few days of sun and imbibement.

Have a good weekend.

1 comment: