Just as expected, The Mayor of MacDougal Street, by Dave Van Ronk, was my 12th book of 2013, meeting my goal at the zero hour. Coincidentally, my local NPR station was giving away tickets to see a preview screening of Inside Llewyn Davis the week before Christmas, and I scored two seats for Mrs. Viper and I to have a rare date night.
The book was a fun read, and I recommend it to anyone interested in New York City during the 1960s or the folk revival period in general. However, it colored my viewing of the movie in a negative light. I came out of the theater feeling a bit disappointed, and I later realized it was because I was expecting it to be more like the book, which was a major mistake.
Although the Coen Brothers used certain anecdotes from Van Ronk's memoir, it was not a biopic nor an historical rendering. The movie was not about the era, but rather used it as a setting for a story about a downtrodden musician struggling to find meaning in his life after losing his partner. It's about coping with loss, letting go of the past, and trying to make a living as an artist.
After thinking more critically about it, I find myself more appreciative of the film. I only wish I could see it again in the theater, but it'll have to wait until it reaches the home video market.
The 2014 Reading List
Just as in the past few years, my goal for this year is once again to read one book per month. Right now, I'm reading a short story collection by the recent Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro, called Friend of My Youth, which has been in my collection for who knows how long.
You may know that I'm a recovering chronic book buyer. From the time I was in college until I became acquainted with debt, I'd go trawling discount and used book stores and library sales and buy stacks of books at a time.
I can't tell you how many books I own from this period that I still haven't read. This Munro book is one of those. I think it was purchased from a library in Chicago, when a friend and I went to visit his brother and attend the Chicago Comic Con, but I may have gotten it elsewhere.
I've never read any of Munro's work, and I've never seen this particular collection mentioned among her best, but I thought I'd read it since she just won the Nobel. So far, it's pretty good. I'm only on the second story. The book sits atop a shelf in our upstairs bathroom, so that probably tells you A.) way too much and B.) how much effort I'm investing in reading right now. But it's winter, which is when my reading typically picks up steam.
From past experience *coughCivilWarReadingListcough* I know not to try to plan out a year's worth of reading. It's impossible to predict what kind of mood I might be in. I do know I want to read The Hard Way on Purpose, the new book by local author David Giffels (whose previous book I reviewed here), but beyond that I'll read whatever strikes my fancy this year. Any suggestions?
What are you reading this cold January? What do you have on your to-read list this year? Let me know in the comments!