Friday, July 30, 2010

Jodi Compton

Jodi Compton is the author of the acclaimed novel The 37th Hour, which features Detective Sarah Pribek, and the newly released Hailey's War.

Earlier this month I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
Macbeth. Generally, I think Shakespeare loses a lot in just being read, instead of seen on the stage or screen. But I reread Macbeth every once in a while because it’s my favorite Shakespeare, and chances are relatively few to see it live (I blame the alleged ‘Scottish play curse’ for that).

You’d expect a four-hundred-year-old verse drama based on royal history to present murder as a well-choreographed ballet by villains with steely resolve, but instead, Macbeth and his wife act a lot like the poor 20-century shlubs who end up in the pages of Ann Rule’s true-crime books. The evening of the planned murder, the two are still debating about whether to do this thing or not. Lady Macbeth goes into Duncan’s bedchamber and comes back saying she would have stabbed him herself, had he not looked so much like her father as he slept. Macbeth does succeed in killing him, and then there’s a weak attempt at a frame job, a hasty, bloody cleanup afterward, and then a spiral into psychological collapse.

People tend to consider Macbeth a story about the big questions -- is there such a thing as fate? -- but I’m more interested in the little ones. Like, what happened to the baby Lady Macbeth says she nursed, in Act 1? Who is MacDuff really talking about when he says ‘He has no children‘ in Act 4? (I’m in the minority; I think it’s Macbeth, not Malcolm, who is, after all, standing in front of MacDuff and should reasonably be addressed in second person).

Okay, I could go on about all the fascinating bits of business in this play, but it’s Macbeth; it’s famous. Just read it already, if you haven’t.

Bike for Life, by Bill Katovsky and Roy M. Wallack. Nobody gets stabbed to death in a bedchamber in this book, but it’s very readable, and it’s a godsend to bicycle lovers who, like me, have unwisely been using the bike as their only form of exercise equipment. Bike for Life covers ‘prehab’ (which is what it sounds like, injury prevention), effective cross-training (swimming makes an ideal companion), the best yoga asanas for cyclists, and so on. Also included are interviews with a fascinating cross-section of famous cyclists -- not Armstrong, no, but Marla Streb and Missy Giove are represented. Perhaps best is the interview with John Sinibaldi, born in 1913, an Olympian who never wanted to turn pro and spent most of his adult life as a sheet metal worker. He did a century ride (100 miles) with a pack of younger riders to celebrate his 90th birthday.

Sinibaldi tells the story of the day he and his team took the ferry to the 59th Street Bridge in New York for a race (again, 100 miles), and got there too late: the race had already started, the peloton was gone. He and his team didn’t even start after them right away -- it was a rainy day, so they stopped at a machine shop and greased up their legs to repel water, and then set off. Says Sinibaldi, ‘We chased and chased and chased.‘ He bent a wheel out of true and had to take off the brakes to compensate, so he rode after that with no stopping power. They finally caught the group after 70 miles and won it in the final 15. He concludes: ‘God, was I riding good that day.’

Visit Jodi Compton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue