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Monday Morning Notebook

By admin Published: March 31, 2008

It's a wet and drab morning here, but I decline to let that depress me. Why? Two things. ...

One of the weekend's high points was being out in the sun on Saturday, clearing the leaves and other debris from the flower beds; green shoots could be spotted, and even some small flowers, and it was time to give them more sun. Spring's here.

The other is that baseball season has begun. I know, it began a few days ago; I even watched bits of those Boston games in Japan. But this is where it really begins. And to mark the occasion, I watched some of "Bull Durham" for the umpteenth time. Not the best baseball movie ever made, not compared to "Bang the Drum Slowly" or "Eight Men Out," but a fabulous movie nonetheless. Great speeches from Crash Davis. The "25 hits" speech. Even more, the "I believe" speech. "Lollygaggers." "The world was made for people who aren't cursed with self-awareness." Play ball.

Didn't watch a lot of TV. Some NCAA basketball, but is there anything worse than a Final Four that is all number one seeds? Come on, someone should be Cinderella. Otherwise, the guys who design the brackets will think they've figured it all out. Did chores, and caught up with some reading.

Or, more precisely, gave up on some reading. I have been struggling for months with "The Poe Shadow," the novel by Matthew Pearl. I had read his "The Dante Club" and enjoyed it -- smart, literary but with a story that held my interest. "The Poe Shadow," though, was a slog. Didn't like the main character, thought the story dragged. I kept trying, though. I don't like to leave novels unfinished. And I kept asking myself, "Am I just too stupid for this book?" Finally, though, it reached a point where I looked up some reviews, and saw that there had been other readers whose reactions were tepid -- whose concerns were similar to my own. Reassured, I went back to the book, only the task was no easier. About 30 pages from the end, it was clear there was nothing to be gained from my finishing, so I didn't.

And then, for other parts of the weekend, I went for something more refreshing: "Two for the Money," a compilation of two early, interrelated novels by Max Allan Collins. I've been a fan of Collins for a long time. While these novels had some flaws, they were respectable, tough-talking, hard-boiled fiction. Solid escapism. Collins wrote more than these about the characters, and I expect to seek them out when I need a break from the rest of the world.

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