Wednesday, February 20, 2008

123 meme

Aurora has posted the 123 Meme, and let it be known that self-tagging is voluntary. Tag! I'm it.

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

"It's a beauty," I said. Calvin was already bunching up newspaper to start the first fire. We gathered some wood and then I threw in a match. The oil residue burned in blue swirls deep in the barrel, and yellow and orange sparks rose into the sky like a hundred new stars.

* * *

I haven't actually gotten to p. 123 in this book yet. I'm on p. 51 as of this morning. The book is: Down To This: Squalor and Splendour in a Big-City Shantytown , by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall. It's a non-fiction account of a year that he spent living as a homeless person in Toronto.

There used to be 27 acres of privately owned land just south of downtown Toronto, at the edge of Lake Ontario, where squatters built shacks and lean-to's from discarded building materials and formed a sort of community. It was called Tent City.

Bishop-Stall ends up there in December 2001 with some army-surplus gear, a notebook, pens, and very little else. It's unclear how pre-planned his mission is. He's not there purely from journalistic curiosity. He's freshly wounded by a terrible heartbreak, although all we are told of his lover is that she haunts his dreams. He escapes into this strange subculture and keeps a journal.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to be reminded of how fortunate they are. Reading of Bishop-Stall's efforts to stay warm and get some sleep in an unheated, leaky shack in December reminds me how much I take shelter for granted.

As the days go by, Bishop-Stall meets the other residents of Tent City, like Claudette, who keeps a raccoon as a pet, and Randy, who chugs alcohol like Popeye gulps spinach. There's also a guy called Sluggo. I only mention him because I think "Sluggo" is such a great hobo name.

If anyone's interested, maybe I'll have some kind of contest or raffle, and mail this book to the winner when I've finished reading it. If only one person is interested: you win!

As for step #5, I'm too lazy. Anyone who wants to do this - you're It next. Go!


Warped Mind of Ron said...

Interesting, I will consider this meme later. Hopefully I don't pick up a romance novel that could be a little racey.

jameil1922 said...

i wanna win it!! i love books! and really love nonfiction! I wouldn't have gone to 123 if i hadn't read that far yet. i'm a bit crazy about not having bits of anything spoiled for me. i don't even read book jackets. i judge books by their covers & titles so make it good!!

Aurora said...

That sounds really interesting. I'd definitely like to read that.

R.E.H. said...

I've seen this meme floating around there. I need to pass the 123rd page of the book I'm currently reading before I do it though. I'm very particular about skipping ahead in a book.

Jenski said...

Sounds like an interesting book! Because I am rereading my current book, I skipped ahead to page 123. I already know what happens with Lizzy and Darcy. :)

Sparkling Red said...

Warped Mind of Ron: Do it! Do a Harlequin romance. They're so cheesy. That would be hilarious.

Jameil: Wow, you really mean business. I couldn't buy a book without reading bits of it first. I spend ages in the bookstore or library, doing random quality checks throughout books before I commit. I always conveniently forget the sample bits that I've read until I find a passage that seems vaguely familiar...

Aurora: It's between you and Jameil now. I'll have to flip a coin. :-)

R.E.H.: Another purist! I usually don't skip ahead in books once I've read them, but it didn't bother me to get these five lines. It didn't really give anything away. Maybe because it's non-fiction so there's not a plot, per se.

Jenski: A re-reader, eh? That's the opposite of what everyone else has been saying - that they can't stand to know anything about a book in advance. I used to re-read my favourites when I was a kid, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Now I don't read anything twice because there are so many new things I want to read, and so little time. :-)

Nicole said...

I still have that Meme on my backburner as well.
The book sounds interesting.
Will keep it in mind :)
Am currently reading a book in German.
I don't think anyone would be too interested in page Nr.123 of that one ;)

Keera Ann Fox said...

I did this meme once before, but I've done it again because it saved me the trouble of thinking. However, it was rather challenging to type. ;-)

Sparkling Red said...

Nicole: You could run the German text through Babelfish to get a bad English translation, and then post that. That would add an original dimension. :-)

Keera: Yes, it saved me on a day when my own life didn't seem very interesting. ;-)

Angry Lab Rat said...

An interesting meme, but I can't make myself do viral chain tags like that. Instead, I'll do it here.

Using the meme rules, here is the excerpt from one of my own books (a sword-and-sorcery fantasy):

"Over the millennia We have known many a valiant fighter for freedom. Most died at the tip of a weapon, agonized and alone, but confident in the honor of their passing. A precious few ended their lives with the peace of old age. Deep in Our Memory is inscribed each of their lives."

Sparkling Red said...

Angry Lab Rat: You just reminded me why I should read a fantasy novel now and then. I love that high-flown prose, all about warrior and paladin archetypes, good guys and bad guys. That's good stuff!