I tried to go on the Atkins diet and lasted just slightly over two days. My mother cautioned me, "Don't do it for more than six weeks or you'll damage your liver"-- which just goes to show the depth of her love and obviously unwarranted faith. All I had to give up were carbohydrates and sugar, but I never realized before that 80% of my daily energy basically comes from three main food groups: Coca-Cola, potato chips, and cigarettes. With only one out of three, I'm a vegetable, good only for playing with my daughter and reading a couple of chapters of my current novel before falling into blessed unconsciousness. ('Blessed' because then I couldn't think about how many people I'd be willing to kill for a lousy 12 oz. Coke.) I also got dehydrated and somewhat grumpy, which implies that my famously calm disposition is in fact dependent on poor eating habits.
At the same time, my PC conked out again, this time due to some freaky virus. No one should be deprived of chips, Coke, and their main source of work and electronic entertainment all at the same time-- it does things to a person.
bibliophilia: Eragon by Christopher Paolini (WARNING: spoilers!)
When Vin lent me this book, I was all set not to like it, simply because its author is 19 years old and started writing the damn thing when he was 15. So I figured it was all hype, just a gimmick to ride on the Harry Potter phenomenon, with the new twist of a barely-post-pubescent author.
And I didn't like it, initially. The writing was mildly awkward, the characterization of the dragon (It's a fantasy.) smacked of Anne McCaffrey's Pern, and most of the plot revelations were visible from miles away. I couldn't wait to get to chapter 4, so that I could safely say I had given it a fair chance before putting it down for good.
But somewhere in between page one and chapter five, something happened. The stereotypical farmboy hero turned into an actual person, the wise old mentor died, and the writing gradually matured past the see-Spot-run style of the first few pages. Best of all, instead of the usual good-vs.-evil morality of most fantasy novels, Paolini offered a sophisticated-enough scenario of opposing forces with complex agendas. And so, one way or the other, magic-- both the magic of a well-rendered fantasy setting and the magic of competent writing-- happened.
I'm still not saying this book deserves its supposed status as the new star of juvenile literature-- it lacks the endearing charm of the Potter books, as well as the whimsical flakiness of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. But if you appreciate a straightforward quest-style fantasy epic, you might want to pick this one-- and its sequel-- up in paperback. In spite of all my criticisms, I'm gonna. Then again, I'm a bibliophile, so as long as it doesn't utterly suck, I'll read it. Eragon doesn't; there ya go.