January 2006

Spook by Mary RoachI’d read Mary Roach’s book Stiff last year and really enjoyed it. I have to admit that deep down, I have a weird interest in the morbid, and her take (not too heavy, somewhat conversational) on the different things that happened to bodies after they died (other than being buried) was interesting and fun.

I just finished her latest book Spook, however, and had almost the opposite reaction. In the book, she takes her conversational writing at least two steps beyond what it was in her other book and the result is really annoying. Instead of coming across as a curious outsider, she seems rather condescending to many (if not most) of the subjects she interviews. Although the people that she talks to are obviously involved in rather strange (and even non-scientific) pursuits of trying to commune with / prove the existence of the afterlife, her mocking tone is barely concealed most of time and rather frustrating.

To top it off, there seems to be a rather base obsession with completely random minutiae in the book (much of it related to toilet-humor) that sidetracks the narrative and makes the book even harder to read. Not very highly recommended.

The former hand-coded system was getting to be too much to bear, so I decided to scrap the whole thing and start completely anew. The old stuff is still hanging around, but it won’t be updated anymore. This first design is fairly standard, but since the site is done with PHP and CSS, it should make redesigns a heck of a lot easier in the future. I got so sick of my old blog because it was so limiting, so I’m hoping that this new system allows things to go a little more smoothly and inspires me to post and write a lot more.

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