Friday, October 27, 2006

Blood, interesting. What about a book on blood?

Having just finished reading Bill Haye's Five Quarts, my mind is filled with interesting little facts on blood. Things such as "what those weird little sticks of red, white and blue swirls hanging outside barber shops really are" (Barbers, in medieval times, were also small-time doctors, and the red equals blood, blue equals veins, white equals bandages and the stick represents the stick the patient held during bloodletting) and the history of Queen Victoria's little family (and their giant blood problems). However there were parts that were dull.

Mainly the parts with his personal history of blood. The author is quite interesting himself. Not many seem to be so open (or is it that there are not so many?) about being a gay man. Some of the stories he adds in about his family (he is the only son among five sisters) or about his lover (Steve) and him. This could all be a baised opinion from just finishing An Unquiet Mind (written by Kay Jamison) which was dull, dull and very dull (quite the opposite, it seems, from everyone else's opinion). Or possibly from my lack of complete enjoyment from non-fiction. Non-fiction, if not interesting from the start, is very boring to me (and hence my lack of enjoyment of An Unquiet Mind).

I would recommend it to other people, most certainly. It has quite a few things to learn from. As a very important daily substance, blood is overlooked. People do not want to talk about it. It is just one of those social forbiddens. Reading the book is exquisitely informative. Little things that make you go "Ah!!! I get it now!!" (One example would be why we wear wedding bands on our fourth finger on our left hand). Little fun trivial facts (and I do ever so love those).

Overall, the style of Bill Hayes is a bit put-offish, a bit like Tracey Kidder, who wrote Mountains Beyond Mountains. However unlike Kidder's or Jamison's style, it is more on the mediocre side. A voice that, if not in the mood, would seem dreadfully boring, but if in the mood, be interesting. It all depends. A book that you must read with something else to break it apart (for me, it was Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things, another book to not read in one sitting... but for a completely different reason*). In conclusion, if you find a book about blood interesting, go out and buy it. If not at all, then do not bother. Not yet, at least.

* Fragile Things is a collection of short fictions, and if you read them all at once, they clash and run together and ruin themselves. If spaced out, they're wonderful.

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