Friday, July 20, 2007

Babies, and email and death, oh my!

I finished three books, all on disparately different topics, in the last several weeks. Now that my head's stopped spinning, allow me to share a few impressions.

The first was Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence, by Rebecca Walker. Ms. Walker is the daughter of the famous writer Alice Walker, she of The Color Purple fame. But just because she has celebrity author parentage doesn't mean she's a good author in her own right.

Although she is a competent wordsmith, Ms. Walker failed to capture the essence of why it is she so desperately wants a child. I was looking to understand this ambivalence, but instead got frustrated by the lack of explanations--why did she identify as a lesbian and then turn hetero to have a child? Why is her relationship with her mother fraught with so much tension and sadness? Why, ultimately, did she choose to be a mother? I don't have a clue and by the end of the book I didn't care. Not recommended.

Next up was a much more lighthearted (and satisfying) read. Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home, by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe. This slim volume is chock full of useful suggestions for giving and getting good email. You will learn about the six essential types of email, the "politics of the cc", and the ways in which we sabotage ourselves when we send email. The writers use a quick witted style and lots of examples of the right and wrong ways to use email. Recommended.

Finally, I just closed the cover on a book I had been looking forward to reading since I first read about it. Aftermath, Inc.: Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home, by Gil Reavill. While it didn't totally live up to expectations, it was still a good read.

Crime Writer, Gil Reavill, delves into the grisly and gruesome world of what's known as "bioremediation", which is basically the dirty but necessary business of cleaning up the body fluids, blood spatter and other human biomatter that is left at a crime scene or "decomp" after the body has been removed. Mostly familes, but sometimes businesses, contract with Aftermath, Inc. to have them clean up the messes that no one else either cannot or will not do.

It's a fascinating look into a business that not many people are familiar with. Throughout the book, Reavill shadows the Aftermath crew on jobs and explains the process of what such a job entails. I found the book engaging, although there were times in the latter chapters that the author strayed a bit too far in talking about his own history of seeing a dead body for the first time or laying out the pecadillos of serial killers throughout modern history. These things didn't add to the value of the book and got to be distracting. But overall, a good read if you have the stomach for it! Recommended.

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