Archive for April, 2007

Bookshelf: That Old Ace In The Hole (Annie Proulx)

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

I got Annie Proulx’s That Old Ace In The Hole (2002) for Christmas from my parents. I didn’t know what to expect, since the author’s name didn’t ring a bell. Proulx won a Pulitzer for her novel The Shipping News, filmed by Lasse Hallström in 2001. I haven’t seen the movie. I have seen Ang Lee’s 2005 movie Brokeback Mountain, though, which is based on Proulx’s short story in a 2000 collection titled Close Range: Wyoming Stories.
It’s a very engaging tale, in many respects foremost a story. It concerns a man called Bob Dollar who’s scouting for real estate to buy – although actually he’s just lost and looking for himself. The plot itself is naive and I dare say consciously so. It all evokes an aura of a story you might hear told, much like many of the stories told to the protagonist over the course of the novel. It carries a tangibly strong feel, you really get a sense for the hot and arid desert towns depicted.

When I began reading the book, I really didn’t care for the setting, but it’s testament to the writing that now I find the desolate American deserts highly interesting. Recommended. Good summer vacation reading, somewhat out of place in the Finnish winter.

The dead among us

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

An article titled “Digital Footprints” on the videogame magazine The Escapist held my thoughts. It concerns a phenomenon I’ve wondered before: people talking to dead people on their blogs, forums, MySpace pages and so on, with full knowledge they’re addressing a person already gone.

I haven’t done this myself and I’m wondering: do they think the dead person might hear them? Are they comforting themselves? Are they participating in shared grieving?

Admittedly, I probably would feel like making a farewell comment on a dead friend’s blog, to provide closure, and acknowledge that he or she is gone. Somehow it would feel wrong to see the same old sites, just like they were when the persons concerned were still alive.
Not that this is a new behavior by any means. People have always left cards and spoken aloud to dead persons. It’s just the nature of the Web that these private or small-circle’s thoughts are now public and in many ways more permanent.

In a way, I think it’s beautiful, giving presence to the dead.