Finished #40 over the weekend (and it was a doozy), but need to get caught up after the quickies from last week.
#32 "In the Shadow of the Law" by Kermit Roosevelt: Probably this year's winner of the "Wolf" memorial "all setup, no payoff award." Continuing my trend of doing unwise things before a big life change, (like viewing "The Paper Chase" the night before my first day of law school...and then my torts prof turns out to look just like Kingsfield. Of course, he turned out to be a real sweetheart, but I was yet to know that and was thoroughly terrified...) I read this legal thriller (use of term is advised) the weekend before starting the new job.
From what I can tell, Roosevelt gets BigLaw culture pretty right on. There's the superstar, the striver, the frat-boy, the burn-out, the old coot, etc.
And then, well, it gets silly. I won't spoil it for you because describing the various plot set ups would take too long, but suffice it to say that there is not one, but two ridiculous deus ex machina reversals that would have John Grisham himself shaking his head and saying "no f'in way." Not quite as cringe-worthy as Dan Brown's hand held parachute in Angels and Demons, but close.
#33 "Assassination Vacation" by Sarah Vowell. If only "Killing Yourself to Live" had been as witty, fun, and oh yeah about the advertised topic as this one. A meandering journey through the twists and turns of the Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley assassinations, and the motley cast of characters each seemed to throw up. Most intriguing and tragic was the story of Lincoln's son, who, Forrest Gump-like was more or less present for all three. Just the right dose of modern politics for my liking as well (Vowell, unsurprisingly considering her oeuvre, is decidedly, though not viciously, left-of-center.)
#34 "What's My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States" By Dave Zirin. Is it odd to be a Marxist sportswriter? It would have to be - I can't imagine a more perfect "opiate of the masses" than spectator sports. In some places *cough*NotreFreakinDame*cough*, football really is religion. But anyway, Zirin is in fact a Marxist sportswriter. Unfortunately for this reader, he spent a little too much time in the Rick Reilly School of Overwrought Simile. Combined with his decidedly Leftist politics, there are some profoundly silly passages. I'm all for more Dick Cheney jokes. But just not bad ones.
Anyway, some parts of the book are actually decent - the historical sections dealing with Jackie Robinson, Ali, and the Carlos/Smith black power salute. Easy enough where events have shown the protagonists to be on the Right Side of History, as they say. The more recent stuff, not so much. Too often, he confuses "wit" (advisedly used) with substance. Further, sports seen through a completely political lens is uh, lame. He can't decide whether the players are the avenging angels or class traitors. I get confused.
That said, there are some decent bits in the more recent stuff. He takes a nice healthy run at George Foreman, and actually had two very thought-provoking essays defending Barry Bonds. Overall, too much vinegar, not enough...(huh?)