I sampled four audiobooks and decided to go with this 24-hour one next.
I sampled four audiobooks and decided to go with this 24-hour one next.
(Ward, on the right, with her spouse)
This finally finishes the Booker 2020 longlist for me. It checks off some boxes. Healthy same-sex relationships and parenting. Interesting ideas mixed into some story context. It's good, but in an ok-good sort of way. Philosophical in that sterile doctor-office-clean prose way. It has an interesting ending and I probably should think more about it. More likely I won‘t think much about it at all.
Gorgeous prose and terrific characterization. Wharton does a good job of making this a nice read with a lot going on under the surface. But it is limited by an only ok plot, and mainly of really wealthy people being really wealthy. The cultural tension is American faux-purity and French sophistication, and maybe the subtle lack of sincere emotion. The tension is not on the wealth itself. Still, I really enjoyed this. #whartonbuddyread
Crab and, yes, that guy as Lance, 1970.
Two Gentlemen of Verona - Act II
Take out a couple Soliloquies by Proteus, and this is a fast moving very busy act with endless wit. About everyone is on stage, and we meet Lance, Crab, Silvia, Thurio, and the Duke. And we learn things“stand well” with Julia and Proteus. But, alas, Proteus throws a monkey 🔧 in - and self-justifies it. So, some dark overshadows the light. Thoughts?
Trying to capture how nice this physical book is in my picture, but maybe a collage would have been better.
This is not a book for everyone, but if you can pick up on the playful sense, the games with philosophy and philosophers through time, and can combine that into Luiselli‘s intimate prose…with the mixing of these tones it becomes something quite wonderful. I was thoroughly charmed, even if I didn‘t fully get it.
The Fruit of the Tree 1907
Our next Wharton novel. (Get this copy, W‘s own, for $3500, or maybe get a free ebook.) This is a 600 page tome, hence the schedule.
Feb 12: Book I parts I - V
Feb 19: Book I part VI to Book II part XIII
Feb 26: Book II part XIV to Book III part XX
Mar 5: Book III part XXI - XXVII
Mar 12: Book III part XXVIII to Book IV part XXXV
Mar 19: Book IV part XXXVI - XLVIII (end of the book)
Let us take a moment and imagine ourselves in Renaissance Verona.
Act I - We meet Valentine and Proteus, each well-defined by their name. V true in love, and P ever changing. V is off to Milan. P, although no Leander, is in love with one Julia and stays to court. But dad Antonio sends P off to Milan anyway, with a day‘s notice. Also, let‘s not overlook our servants. This maybe the Bard‘s 1st act performed. Thoughts?
(Sharing with the cat)
I am going to recount for you the fascinating stories of these teeth, and I would urge you to buy them, take them to your homes, use them, or simply cherish them for persecula seculorum. That is, for forever. Otherwise, I continued, slightly overstating the case in a menacing tone, if these relics don‘t find owners by the end of this session, they will be sold abroad. And the last thing we need 👇👇
(My neglected desk in the background. This is my first day inside my office in 3 and a half weeks.)
So, I started yet another book. This one screams Nabokov…and Pynchon. I didn‘t expect that. But also, “Book I” (about 30 pages) is brilliant and has Luiselli‘s wonderful intimacy with the text that she seems to pull off. … I hope the rest of the book holds up.
Another book started, where I‘m learning the curious comfort of “dear, good, sweet, simple, real Americans” in Paris. For #whartonbuddyread.
1. Tough call for me. The stifling atmosphere and frozen setting of this one, a kind of Soviet criticism novel, left a chill. So it gets the choice today.
2. Personal - read Decameron. 🙂
3. Lazy mornings.
Thanks @Eggs for the tag.
I spent two years on a Nabokov theme, reading all of his novels, with 2021 reading his English language novels. This biography, which is really special, was so meaningful to me in that context. It was possibly my favorite book of my Nabokov theme. It‘s a great book to complete this #12Booksof2021 list.
I finished six books in November, all good, and I gave 5-stars to two of them. One was The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, my first by Muriel Spark. The other was this special classic, read with the #whartonbuddyread - it‘s my favorite for this month.
My new audio, read by the author, who was also a lead actress in Young Sherlock Holmes. This one is from the 2020 Booker longlist, but was released in the US in September (2021!). The first 30 minutes are terrific. (And it means I have seven books going at the moment. 😬🙃🙂)
Another of those books I started Jan 1. This one for a Victorian theme on LibraryThing.
#October was another terrific reading month, much better than August & September. I read seven books, including a lovely reread of Romeo and Juliet. And I finally read this wonderful book by the latest Nobel Prize winner, easily one of favorite books of the year.
In her program note for The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Stratford-upon-Avon in I970, Hilary Spurling described the play's world as one of:
“knights errant, distracted lovers, and as preposterous a band of brigands as ever strode a stage. This is an Italy of true romance, where Milan is reached from Verona by sea. …”
Just a reminder. See you all next Sunday.
This was a better month than August because I finally finished three really long books and felt free to move on. (I eventually finished seven books this month.) It was a month of good, not great books. But it included this new charming oddball novel, which I really enjoyed on audio.
Shirley Jackson was fascinating and led a much too short but very crazy life, raising four kids and supporting the family with income from stories, parenting memoirs, and deeply complex novels with underlying themes of fear and anxiety and multiple personalities - all autobiographical aspects to some degree. This biography is thorough, maybe too thorough, but covers about everything we know about her. I‘m really grateful to have listened to it.
The story of Pearl Tull and her three children after her husband runs off in the 1940‘s. Pearl is hard, willful, a tough mom. Her kids are each different. Tyler here is about capturing an atmosphere by capturing all the details. Maximalist, wordy, slow and yet she creates a impression. One child ponders time and how hope turns to wistful sadness. And that‘s maybe this novel. I enjoyed it.
#June was my best month of reading. I hit a stretch where everything was terrific - all after finishing the long The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel and a good audiobook on Thomas Cromwell. I read Pnin, my favorite Nabokov, The Book of Not by Tsitsi Dangarembga and Hot Milk by Deborah Levy, while listening to Begin Again, on James Baldwin. And with the #shakespearereadalong I read Richard III, now a favorite Shakespeare.
I read three translations of the Canzoniere, including this one of selections from different translators. I read a bit almost every day starting Jan 1, and finally finished in May. My overall response is a little nuanced, there is a degree to which i plodded through. But it‘s, for me, my biggest reading accomplishment this year. So, Petrarch gets May.
Writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, which were considered ancient Wisdom. (The writings are a little younger than most New Testament writing, but no one knew that in the 1400‘s.) Ficino translated this for the Medici‘s and came up with a Hermetic magic. Pico della Mirandola merged it into Jewish Cabalism, creating a mystic religious magic, and a pope blessed it (!) before Pico died (age 31) - our antiquarian occult foundations.
Ok, seriously, that‘s your author photo?
Also in this book are two light random references to Nazi Germany. How one historical figure is the subject of Hitler‘s favorite opera (by Wagner!); and he uses the term “Drang nach Westen” - which a play on a German nationalist term. So am I reading a quiet angry nazi? Chapter 1 is entertaining, if dated. It‘s a summary of the 14th century. Also there aren‘t many options on the life of Boccaccio.
I got a 100 pages in. This is a series of interviews. In a nutshell, interviewer is trying to understand VN and sometimes asking really considerate thoughtful questions, and VN then proceeds to not answer - dodging, being clever, changing the topic. It‘s really irritating. I can‘t…
This is a nice novel. It‘s clean, embracing a 1970‘s Northern Ontario isolated from the outside world, but not isolated enough. Lawson is maybe looking for peace and restoration without denying reality…but she is still holding reality away at arm‘s length.
I‘m not sure it belongs on the 2021 Booker longlist, but I enjoyed, snapped through it, really.
This was a tough read. It seemed clear until I realized I was getting lost. And most of it is a narrator talking crazy, which gets tiresome. There is complexity and it calms down in the last 100 pages. But, i was happy to be done.
This was his 17th and last novel and I have now read them all, plus a novella, a kind of autobiography, a small biography and a longer one of his wife - maybe my favorite of all this. Anyway, closing this chapter.
I read this silly Anna Tyler novel earlier this year because it was on the 2020 Booker longlist, and it really turned me off from trying another novel by her. Tonight I opened this one, from 1982, and there is a whole lot of interesting stuff going on in the first few pages. Completely different. I‘m intrigued by Pearl Hull, anyway.
Still working through the Booker longlist and picked this up yesterday, trying to jog myself into a better reading place. It‘s seemed to work. Reads simple, but I‘m enjoying it and it‘s peek into 1972 small town Ontario.
Pericles travails. Wandering, finding, losing and finding again his daughter and wife. So. It‘s not in the First Folio. It has some second rate poetry that is claimed to be by another author, not Shakespeare, and it has a ridiculous ending. Also…there might be an incestual theme running quietly throughout it. So, um, not a favorite. But it had its moments and curiosities and the #shakespearereadalong always makes this fun.
I‘ve wanted to read this for years. Finally started (and the cat approves)
Thanks for the tag @batsy Inviting/encouraging everyone tagged or otherwise reading this to join, if you like.
The bow-tie is Pnin and top middle is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. (Reminder - on your smart phone you can do a screen capture and zoom to read titles.)
“I met the first of my three or four successive wives in somewhat odd circumstances, the development of which resembled a clumsy conspiracy, with nonsensical details and a main plotter who knew nothing of its real object but insisted on making inept moves that seemed to preclude the slightest possibility of success.”
Something to chew a few times before the implications of that sentence all come out.
(In the car waiting waiting for the end of Hebrew school.)
My next book, a collection of interviews of a known-to-be-unreliable author, selected by the same author. Well, will see what‘s here. I‘m attempting to cram a few last Nabokovs into December. In January I‘ll move to a new theme (Boccaccio and Robert Musil are my planned 2022 themes)
Switzerland. Or blind Americans in Switzerland. Or just blind readers. VN tells us on page one: “Novices must learn to skim over matter if they want matter to stay at the exact level of the moment.” Insulted and confused, hopefully playfully (?), we must press on another 25 pages before sense begins to be made of Hugh Person‘s love of the unlovable Armande. A confusing thought-provoking sad and playful late novella. ymmv, I think.
Schiff is at her best writing slow and immersive, and with a subject complicated and fascinating enough to adapt to that. She pulled it off with Benjamin Franklin in Paris, and she does it here with the strikingly intelligent, proudly Jewish, fiercely humble partner of Vladimir Nabokov. She was his muse, caretaker, typist and his first and best reader. A really beautiful book.
My next book. It‘s only 104 pages. Hopefully I‘ll figure what that this is about before I read them all.
“he believed God looks after entomologists as he does drunkards.”
Two Gentlemen of Verona, a deranged-plot comedy, is maybe Shakespeare‘s earliest play. It has the smallest cast of any of his plays, and maybe the most influential unspoken role - by Crab the dog. Oh, more crossdressing too. See you in January.
Act I - Jan 9
Act II - Jan 16
Act III - Jan 23
Act IV - Jan 30
Act V - Feb 6