Friday, March 2, 2007

Tim Brookes

Tim Brookes is the author of seven books -- including Guitar: An American Life -- and numerous articles that appeared in Harper’s, the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Outside, the Boston Globe, American History and some 50 other publications. He is a contributing editor for the U.S. Airways magazine Attache and has been a regular essayist for National Public Radio since 1989.

I asked him what he's been reading. His reply:
Interesting timing. The question "What is Tim Brookes reading?" is, at the moment, inextricably tied up with the question "How is Tim Brookes reading?" as I'm recovering from laser eye surgery for a partially detached retina. The current method of post-operative treatment includes putting (don't ask me how -- I'm sparing you the details) a bubble of some unspecified gas into the eye, to act like a kind of pressure bandage and prevent swelling in the retina. This means that when I look out at the world I see a fat, wobbling, squashy circle in the lower half of my vision. It's like having a small, transparent black balloon moored to my right upper canine. My job is to hold my head at such an angle that the bubble rests over the site of the surgery, which in my case means resting my right ear on my right shoulder. Every time I move my head in the slightest, the bubble bounces and wobbles off on way or the other, and I have to tilt it back into place. It's like being a human carpenter's level.

This radically restricts what I can do. I can't write with a pen or pencil, I can't play the guitar, and pole vaulting is strictly off limits. So I've been litening to books on CD: Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje, which like all his book contains individual lines of limpid and startling brilliance; The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett, which I solved long before the end and includes more drinking than a walking guide to the distilleries of Scotland, and The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams, a ragtag assembly of bits and pieces left uncollected after his untimely death.

I tried to start an actual book -- a friend sent me the Baroque Trilogy by Neal Stephenson -- but my eyes are still a little sore and the bubble kept getting in the way. It gets in the way when I type, too, so now I'll have to stop and dock my ear back on my shoulder again.
Read the results of the Page 69 Test for several of Brookes' books.

--Marshal Zeringue