Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Poolside with Anderson Cooper

Poolside with Anderson Cooper

I know it's a little late, but I finally got my hands on Anderson Cooper's Dispatches from the Edge. I couldn't put it down; it was worth the wait. Most of the reading was done poolside at Royal Suites, which appears to have turned into my new reading nook. But what better place to have a date with Andy? Ugandan weather is hard to beat, and the blue skies and sunshine of the past two days have been perfect for sunbathing and getting lost in the pages of a good book.

As if it were an example written to make a point in The Glamour of Grammar, Anderson's use of short, powerful sentences is masterful. I also appreciate his honesty in story telling and the way he weaves his life experiences into the fabric of catastrophic world events that have taken place over the past two decades. He does this without getting preachy or sounding self-righteous, which I find many writers fail to do.

There were so many parts I wanted to highlight and refer to in this post, but reading poolside left me no marking tools, so I'll refer to my favourite section towards the end of the book since it's still fresh in my memory. In the hardback edition, it begins halfway down pager 189. Anderson describes a night out at the Deja Vu strip club that opens back up in New Orleans less than four weeks after Katrina's destruction. Dead bodies are still left rotting in the streets and elsewhere.
...Beneath some colored lights, a handful of girls bump and grind on the bar, rubbing their breasts in patrons' faces. The place is filled with the storm's flotsam and jetsam: cops and soldiers, National Guard, Border Patrol, Customs--you name it; they're all here, their badges and guns badly concealed. They're clutching dollar bills, horny as hell and twice as bored.
Another favourite moment: Anderson referring to Kelis and her song Milkshake, not just mentioning it, but including some of its lyrics.

I'm a product of the Channel One era. I remember having the news programme beamed into my high school classroom each morning. I cannot say I remember Anderson Cooper from those days, but I do remember Michelle Ruiz and the turtle necks she always wore (we'd jokingly say she was hiding hickeys; we were only 15) and Lisa Ling. In case you're like me and do not remember Andy from way back when, Oprah, in her own magical way, dug some footage out of storage for us.

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