Nearest Book

From Sean Gillies. My excerpt:

Automobiles were getting larger as the station wagon and van yielded to the supremacy of the sport utility vehicle (SUV), an expeditionary car based on a light trick chassis and therefore exempt from legislated fuel efficiency standards.

The rules are: grab the nearest book; turn to page 56; find the fifth sentence; post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

I’m sitting next to my bookshelf, so the closest in this case was an artifact of what was where in shelving order: “The Long Emergency”, by James Howard Kunstler. Ground zero of Kunstler reading is “The Geography of Nowhere”, which I would heartily recommend to anyone and everyone – he is still living off the particular style he honed in “Nowhere”. For example, sentence number two on my page 56:

Meanwhile, South Korea, Malaysai, Thailand, Singapore, and especially China were becoming the world’s manufacturing workshops as America “outsourced” heavy industry and focused its energies on hypertrophic suburban land development and the consumer infrastructure that went with it – malls, so-called power centers, and the vast highway strips with their fried food shacks, tanning huts, and muffler shops.

Kunstler translates into visceral language his thesis that the automobile (whether it runs on gas, vegetable oil, electricity or magic) has hopelessly degraded the public realm of most of North America, creating a “cartoon architecture” and a land-use and life-style pattern utterly hostile to normal human relationships.