A Nixon Man

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Before I get to today's book I want to welcome all of the new followers who have showed up over the last few days - as well as to all the new visitors who have come to the page to read it but aren't quite ready to make the follower commitement yet (What, are you waiting for me to play hard to get or something? Because if that's what it takes, I'll do it. I don't even care if you join or not. And if we were sitting in the same room right now I would pretend to ignore you while saying that.). Alright, so I'm kidding, I do care. I do appreciate everyone who has stopped by to read the blog, and I'm also glad to see that some of you have decided to stick around for awhile. I hope you enjoy your time here.

Today's book: "San Francisco, 1972. Richard Nixon has just won his second term in office. Jack Costello, a precocious eleven-year-old, is sure that the President will be around another four years; he's just not sure his family will last that long. Inspired by the Watergate hearings on TV, he buys a listening device and uncovers an adult world at least as confusing as his own."

Today's book presented the same challenge that all novels do for me, how to write about the book without giving away too much of the plot. I find it so much easier to write about non-fiction, which is the reason why I read so many non-fiction books and so few novels. But I think I need a challenge every now and then, so today I picked a novel. I'm going to try to force myself to read a novel every couple of books or so just to keep from getting into a rut - and also to keep from getting another phone call from my sister in which she says, "Are you aware that you've read nothing but non-fiction for the last seven days. I think the public might like it if you read a lighter book tomorrow."

Here's my favorite passage of the book: "With one ear on the phone and the other on the door, I listened closely. I was surprised and disappointed to find that they were not talking about me. Eavesdropping teaches humility." - It's so true. Wearing two different colored socks has the same effect. I spend the whole day trying to hide the socks so no one will notice, and then I come to the end of the day with just a hint of sadness while thinking, "Well it would have been nice if someone at least cared enough to notice that my socks don't match."

Random facts that probably won't be of any interest to anyone who isn't related to me:

  • Richard Nixon's father owned a grocery store, just like my father - a fact I was unaware of until my sister told me. I asked her if this means she will go on to become a President who has a horrible scandal, and she replied, "I think so."
  • Nixon resigned the same month my parents got married - another fact that I didn't know until Alissa told me (which just goes to show how little I paid attention in history class).

Normally when I have two or more things in common with someone famous I like to say, "We're so connected" and pretend like it means something. But I'm not sure that's a good thing in this case.

I was on page 100 of the book when the premise began to feel very familiar. Wire-tapping some one's own family, where have I heard about that before? I considered that maybe I have just read the book before and didn't realize it at the time I bought it (an event that sadly happens rather frequently) - but no, I think I would have remembered the cover. And then it hit me: there was an episode of the Brady Bunch where that happened. Peter decided to spy on his family members, and secretly tape what they said for his own nefarious purposes. I never liked that episode, mainly because of how it ends (which I will leave you in suspense of, just in case you develop of Brady Bunch habit one day - I don't want to ruin the surprise for you dear readers). After watching that episode it became so clear to me why my dad always says, "I always thought that Peter was a twerp," whenever the subject of Brady Bunch comes up (which happens surprisingly often).

I wasn't crazy about this book, and I wouldn't really recommend it. But if you disregard that and decide to read the book anyway - and you're really squeamish - I would skip over page 25 in which the author describes the main character (11 year old Jack) eating Milk-bones with his dog. I've heard relatives tell the "I ate dog food once when I was a baby" stories, and yet those never quite grossed me out the way reading about the sound the Milk-bone makes as a person is chewing on it did. Save yourself the awful mental image dear readers, and skip over that page. Or read it anyway and tell yourself he's just eating Chips Ahoy.