Merry Christmahanukwanzakah everybody! Just wanted to recommend a couple of books for the bored over winter break. Fiction-wise, I’ve been reading My Life as a Man by Philip Roth. This book is the first-person narrative of novelist Peter Tarnopol, whose literary career goes down the tubes after his insane, neurotic love interest tricks him into marriage. He wrestles with the concept of manhood throughout the story, which provides some interesting philosophical background for his disturbing tale. The first half of the book is a “metafictional” story written by Tarnopol about a character much like himself named Nathan Zuckerman, and the second half is Tarnopol telling his own story. Great way to reminisce about that crazy bitch you used to know who almost ruined your life…come on guys, you know the one.
On the non-fiction side, I picked up Inside Greek U. at the UK Bookstore the other day. Kentucky professor Alan DeSantis, well known as a pro-Greek communications professor who pretty much has UK’s Greek system swinging from his nuts*, takes a surprisingly objective and dare I say pessimistic look at the current state of the Greek system at an unnamed university (presumably UK). This book is chock full of fascinating interviews with fraternities and sororities that DeSantis often reproduces verbatim in order to drive his points home. He faces the facts in a very straightforward, forthcoming manner and stays focused on his goal of framing the Greek system in terms of gender roles and conceptions. There are two things that fascinate me about this book: one, the way in which DeSantis is able to throw out his Greek past and approach his research with almost scientific objectivity; and two, the things that actual living, breathing Greeks are saying and doing. This books is a page-turner mainly because you keep expecting DeSantis to pull something unexpected out of his findings, but it never comes. He gives it to you straight–Greeks are reinforcing traditional concepts of masculinity and feminity, and here are the quotes to prove it. You can tell his research opened his own eyes on many subjects. Highly recommended, particularly for non-Greeks who want to feel better about themselves.
* KY Kernel’s Best of UK Best Professor at least three years in a row…yeah, that’s not the Greeks’ doing at allll. Heh.