Guardian 1000 Books Read: The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay

trebizond

Finished! You’ll find my review here.

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“Take my camel, dear,” said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass. The camel, a white Arabian Dhalur (single hump) from the famous herd of the Ruola tribe, had been a parting present, its saddle-bags stuffed with low-carat gold and flashy orient gems, from a rich desert tycoon who owned a Levantine hotel near Palmyra… I did not care for the camel, nor the camel for me, but, as I was staying with aunt Dot, I did what she bade me, and dragged the camel by its bridal to the shed which it shared with my little Austin and, till lately, with my aunt’s Morris, but this car had been stolen from her by some Anglican bishop from outside the Athenaeum annexe while she was dining there one evening…”

Sadness and chuckles and disgust: Reading in a nutshell.

Books mentioned in this post:

Martin Amis – Money

D.H. Lawrence – Sons and Lovers

Happy weekend, loves.

I’m pleased to report I’m on book two of my Guardian 1000 project, though not as proud to admit book one crashed and burned after just under 100 pgs. I invoked the Librarian’s Rule of Law: Thou Shalt NOT Read Icky Books, then threw Martin Amis’s Money onto the reject pile.

I defy you to find a photo of this man in which he's not sneering.

I defy you to find a photo of this man in which he’s not sneering.

If you’re an Amis fan this will mystify you but our relationship was shaky from the start and did not improve. It was a no-fault reading divorce. As I wrote on my Guardian 1000 blog, the book was far too dark and without redeeming value. I can read depressing books (see below) but “protagonists” who do nothing but smoke, drink, take drugs, use people and whore around are repulsive to me. They’re a breed I particularly despise, characters I cannot in any way either respect or identify with, without any redeeming value – especially when the plot itself offers nothing better to come.

Actually, it’s hard explaining exactly why my dislike of the book was so visceral, so extreme. I wanted to read an Amis novel, I really did. I’ve wanted to for ages and hadn’t managed it. I know his reputation for being one of the bad boys of literature and have also seen him waxing lyrical about his Great Reputation and how he’ll be an Icon when he dies, a bit of cockiness that makes me laugh, even knowing he’s probably right. So, when the opportunity arose I was glad to pick up Money but the whole thing went sour quickly.

Tell you what, Martin. If I get through the rest of the Guardian 1000 books and am still scrounging for something to read I’ll try Money again… That’s our compromise. Next up for my Guardian read is Rose Macaulay’s The Towers of Trebizond. And what a relief it is…

Have you read Amis? Did you see something I didn’t? Should I ever try anything else he’s written?

I hope to get along better with Kingsley, once his number comes up. I’ve heard he’s genuinely funny. I’m expecting more an Evelyn Waugh style from him. Please don’t tell me I’m wrong about that.

In classics reading, I’m working on DH Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, for the Guardian Book Group. A more thoroughly depressing work is tough to imagine. Take  Madame Bovary, add a cup of How Green Was My Valley and a handful of Germinal and you’ll be on the right track. Unrelentingly DISMAL would be an appropriate term. Stick your head in the oven a la Sylvia Plath dismal, then throw yourself in front of a train and, finally, drown yourself. It would be kinder than experiencing the life of the Morel family.

So, why am I enjoying it? I expect because it has so much to say about the plight of the terribly poor workman and his family. Ironically, the father in this family is likewise a drunkard and occasionally physically abusive but Lawrence is not trying to make any kind of backhanded joke about his characters, no failed attempt at dark humor, like Amis. It digs deeply into the psychology of the main characters, giving motivation the horrible way they treat each other. Grim, yes, but for a reason.

“But still, in her heart of hearts, where the love should have burned, there was a blank. Now, when all her woman’s pity was roused to its full extent, when she would have slaved herself to death to nurse him and to save him, when she would have taken the pain herself, if she could, somewhere far away inside her, she felt indifferent to him and to his suffering. It hurt her most of all, this failure to love him, even when he roused her strong emotions.”

And the writing is masterful, really lovely. Lawrence finds beauty in a sunset, the most simple of life’s pleasures. He paints a realistic portrait of all the characters but especially of the wife, who simultaneously resents and fiercely adores her children. Who loves but hates her husband. There’s redemption and humanity. In Amis’s Money there is neither. None of the above: no beauty, no redemption, no motivation save the money itself. I find it repugnant.

I’ve also set myself a goal of reading one Virago and one NYRB edition every month – July to December – for the rest of this year. The Towers of Trebizond is published by NYRB, so if I wanted I could say it’s killing two birds but I’ll attempt to read one other, to be fair. Unless I run out of time, in which case I reserve the right to change my mind completely.

I hope to post photos of my Virago and NYRB choices over the weekend. I’ve basically grabbed them off the shelves madly, no particular rhyme or reason. It’s CRAZY. Just CRAZY.

 

Guardian 1000 Project: ‘Money’ by Martin Amis

moneyamis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Part of Martin Amis’s “London Trilogy,” along with the novel London Fields and The Information, Money was hailed as “a sprawling, fierce, vulgar display” (The New Republic) and “exhilarating, skillful, savvy” (The Times Literary Supplement) when it made its first appearance in the mid-1980s. Amis’s shocking, funny, and on-target portraits of life in the fast lane form a bold and frightening portrait of Ronald Reagan’s America and Margaret Thatcher’s England.

             Money is the hilarious story of John Self, one of London’s top commercial directors, who is given the opportunity to make his first feature film—alternately titled Good Money and Bad Money. He is also living money, talking money, and spending money in his relentless pursuit of pleasure and success. As he attempts to navigate his hedonistic world of drinking, sex, drugs, and excessive quantities of fast food, Self is sucked into a wretched spiral of degeneracy that is increasingly difficult to surface from.

fancyline7

Life got in the way of my best plans to read the Guardian’s list but I’m taking this project back.

The Guardian UK’s list of Best 1,000 Novels threw down the gauntlet and I’m smacking them right back. Think you can test me, do you? Dare to question how many of these I’ve read?

Well, Professor Moriarty, the game’s afoot.

Book No. 1 in the first category- Comic Novels – is Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim, which I unfortunately cannot locate amongst my books. I’m 90% positive I have it; I just can’t find it.

Fortunately, Book No. 2, Money by Martin Amis (yes, son of Kingsley) is in my hot little hands. So I’m leap-frogging over the father to get to the son. No offense, old chap. By the time I’ve finished Money I’m sure I’ll have found your novel, even if I have to buy another copy.

What annoys me is finding this book is actually part of a trilogy. And I hate reading just one book in a series. So, do I read just this one or include the other two (London Fields and The Information) as well?

Focus. I must focus.

Martin Amis’s Money is my choice to get me back on track of the Guardian 1000 list. More on the book, and Amis, soon.

Guardian 1000 Reads: Death in Venice by Thomas Mann [530]

 

Deathinvenice    Death in Venice by Thomas Mann, 1912


“Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous – to poetry. But also, it gives birth to the opposite: to the perverse, the illicit, the absurd.”

 


Death in Venice is a novella with a simple plot: aging composer  Gustav von Aschenbach – in his fifties, though he seems much older, bent over by melancholy verging on despair – has lost his artistic inspiration. Unable to write, over the course of several agonizing days he wanders the streets at all hours, winding up in unsavory districts where an unnamed menace lies – menace in the form of a sneering, redheaded man who never approaches him but nevertheless represents, or reflects, danger and potential doom.

 

Eventually, Aschenbach decides a change of scenery may help revive him, rekindling his lost artistic fervor, so he packs is bags and winds up in beautiful Venice. Only, when he arrives, and is ferried to the Lido by gondola (the Lido being a common landing point for tourists seeking lodging in the city) the gondolier is yet another redheaded, sneering man who all but kidnaps von Aschenbach, refusing to let him out elsewhere when the older man expresses trepidation about the gondolier’s attitude and intention.

 When they arrive at the Lido, however, the gondolier disappears, knowing the authorities were there waiting for him, to arrest him for being the only gondolier in Venice without a license. Von Aschenbach has thus been taxied for free. It’s a foreshadowing of things to come, of the sadness and longing yet to be, once again accompanied by the presence of a redheaded man.

After a few restless days in Venice, in which he still can’t manage to settle, von Aschenbach is on the verge of leaving when he sees a beautiful young man: a man whose spirit and handsomeness begins to consume him. He becomes obsessed; he cannot look away.

Though they never meet, the young man is very aware of the attention he’s drawing. No doubt he feels flattered. He makes himself visible, coming near von Aschenbach but only so near his features are clearly visible, never making eye contact or acknowledging his presence.

While in Venice a cholera epidemic sweeps through, killing and sickening residents and visitors alike. Yet von Aschenbach cannot leave the beautiful man. Then, the ending, but I won’t spoil it.

 

Why a top 1000?

It’s a powerful work about artists and their inner demons, beautifully written. That’s the simplistic answer. Here’s a bit of the background behind the story, from Wikipedia:

 

“Mann’s original intention was to write about “passion as confusion and degradation”, after having been fascinated by the true story of Goethe’s love for 18-year-old Baroness Ulrike von Levetzow, which had led Goethe to write his Marienbad Elegy.”

 

 

The degradation, no doubt, centered on the handsome young man’s beauty and awareness of von Aschenbach’s attraction, yet he kept himself aloof making the older man seem a fool.

Later, after the novel’s publication, Mann’s wife Katia tells the background:

 

“All the details of the story, beginning with the man at the cemetery, are taken from experience … In the dining-room, on the very first day, we saw the Polish family, which looked exactly the way my husband described them: the girls were dressed rather stiffly and severely, and the very charming, beautiful boy of about 13 was wearing a sailor suit with an open collar and very pretty lacings. He caught my husband’s attention immediately. This boy was tremendously attractive, and my husband was always watching him with his companions on the beach. He didn’t pursue him through all of Venice—that he didn’t do—but the boy did fascinate him, and he thought of him often … I still remember that my uncle, Privy Counsellor Friedberg, a famous professor of canon law in Leipzig, was outraged: “What a story! And a married man with a family!”

 

I suppose if Katia was okay with it there’s little else to be said…

 

Personal reaction:

Though overwrought at times, Mann’s prose is gorgeous, his expression of despair and longing palpable. I’d planned to read it someday but I’m glad this project made certain I turned that vague intention into action.

I felt for von Aschenbach. Who among us hasn’t been in his shoes? If you can honestly say you’ve never loved from afar and been rejected, I’d be shocked. But then, how easy it is to idolize those we’ll never know, whose appearance and manner attract us but we’ll never know their faults:

 

“Nothing is more curious and awkward than the relationship of two people who only know each other with their eyes — who meet and observe each other daily, even hourly and who keep up the impression of disinterest either because of morals or because of a mental abnormality. Between them there is listlessness and pent-up curiosity, the hysteria of an unsatisfied, unnaturally suppressed need for communion and also a kind of tense respect. Because man loves and honors man as long as he is not able to judge him, and desire is a product of lacking knowledge.”

 

 

Adaptations:

 

  • A film starring Dirk Bogarde was made by LuchinoVisconti in 1971. A second film, more freely adapted from Mann’s novella, was Love and Death on Long Island   (1997) starring John Hurt as a middle-aged writer who becomes obsessed with a young actor portrayed by Jason Priestley.
  • Benjamin Britten transformed Death in Venice  into an opera, his last, in 1973.
  • It was made into a ballet by John Neumeier for his Hamburg Ballet company in December 2003.

 

Next Read:

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House by Eric Hodgins

Blandings

My abject apology to Miss Jane Austen: A Guardian 1,000 Novels Tale

Turn away now, Austenites! I'm about to make a statement you will find vulgar and unfitting for a lady of good breeding: I've abandoned my reread of Pride and Prejudice, leaving it due to the antsy feeling I encountered every time I sat down to it. I simply could not carry on! Woe betide me!

Will pause to allow the ladies to retrieve smelling salts from their reticules. Better?

For what work have I abandoned my recent attempt at rereading Miss Austen's novel? Why, the next book in my Guardian 1,000 Novels Project, that's what: Thomas Mann's novella Death in Venice, about an older man's infatuation with a much younger man. Need I pause again, m'lady? Feeling a bit faint?

 

Faintingcouch

Miss looks quite recovered. Oh, happy day!

 

The older gentleman in Mann's work is Gustav Aschenbach, an avant-garde* composer with a case of writer's block so extreme he embarks upon an excursion to Venice in hopes the muse will find him again there. After finding himself meandering through Munich's streets exhausted from insomnia and all but hallucinatory, he realized he could not go on this way. He was in need of a change of scene before he lost his gift:

 

 

"… Gustav Aschenbach was the poet of all those who were laboring on the brink of exhaustion, the overburdened and worn, who still tried to keep upright…"

 

 

I'm presently just past his arrival, via gondola, at the Lido in Venice. He's secured his hotel but has just had a curious incident with the gondolier in the day-time, whose menace and leering grin discomposed Gustav, to the point he demanded to be let out somewhere else, which the man refused to do. Realizing he was a captive passenger, he chose instead to resign himself to the pleasant, soothing rocking of the boat.

Awaiting the gondolier at the Lido were officials ready to apprehend him, for being the only operator of a gondola in Venice without a license. But there's something more about the man…  and I'd probably best not tell you that. Instead, when I'm ready to share more about the work as a whole – once I've finished, which won't take long – I may seek to drive you to distraction dropping hints.

 

Lidovenice

The Lido, Venice

 

Regarding my inability to settle with Austen this time around, my theory is having become immersed in much darker literature, between Barry's Ireland and the literature of the American South, I can't easily readjust to the Regency Period without finding the experience jarring. My hands itch for another book when I sit down with m'lady, an occurrence I've not confronted before. I'm sure the time will come when I can again appreciate Regency writing but for now I'm far too caught up in more contemporary fiction of the sort Austenites would surely abjure. Not to sound dismissive.

Since I began reading more modern writing – after a long period in which I felt earlier literature was the only quality reading – I've found myself converted to the realism of it, what many would consider depressing and dark. It makes me feel in a very different way earlier novels don't. I can't see myself delving much into the literature of the 18th century again, for example, a phase I went through more than five years ago. At the time I found Evelina's constant fainting a frustration but continued on because overall the story had a certain charm. Now I'd find it a bore. And on my shelves sit several rather hard to come by 18th century paperback reprints of the works of "neglected females of the 18th century." Yet, I dare not sell them, or give them away, because who knows when my tastes will switch around again – and I couldn't build up that collection again without much work and money. Right now I'd rather devote that time and money to a very different era of literature.

I've also spun that random number generator again, to determine my read after Mann. This time it came up with:

 

# 55: Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House by Eric Hodgins

 

 Looks like another case of culture shock finishing Mann only to pick up a comedic novel. How this will go I can't say but I'm going to give it my best. Remember my rule: if I don't like it, I dump it. It's my "Too many good books" rule.

There's a 1948 film adaptation of the book, starring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas.  I'll probably watch that after I read the book, though it sounds somewhat familiar and I think I may have seen it in the long, long ago times. With my Amazon Prime membership I can stream it for free, so what's to lose (save a bit of time)?

Speaking of films, there was a re-release of Luchino Visconti's adaptation of Death in Venice in 2010 (1971 original film):

 

"Luchino Visconti's adaptation of the Thomas Mann novel is the very definition of sumptuous: the costumes and sets, the special geography of Venice, and the breathtaking cinematography combine to form a heady experience. At the center of this gorgeousness is Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde in a meticulous performance), a controlled intellectual who unexpectedly finds himself obsessed by the vision of a 14-year-old boy while on a convalescent vacation in 1911. Visconti has turned Aschenbach into a composer, which accounts for the lush excerpts from Mahler on the soundtrack (Bogarde is meant to look like Mahler, too). Even if it tends to hit the nail on the head a little too forcefully, and even if Visconti can test one's patience with lingering looks at crowds at the beach and hotel dining rooms, Death in Venice creates a lushness rare in movies. For some viewers, that will be enough. –Robert Horton"

 

Sounds fantastic, like a great accompaniment to the book. And I'm sure the library system will have it (for the record, yes, it does), to save me the $2.99 Amazon rental price, for which my Prime account fails me. There've been a few adaptations made but this one sounds the best by far.

 

Deathinvenicedvd

We're now caught up on my Guardian project status to date: my apologies to Miss Austen for my failure on Pride and Prejudice,  Death in Venice is lovely and I'm looking forward to Blandings.

That last book sounds like P.G. Wodehouse, doesn't it? After a bit of Amazon checking, that's because it's also the name of a series the English gentleman wrote, several of which I read when I was a teenager. I knew I'd heard that name somewhere before! Now I wonder if the two are actually related… Too early to look into that, with Mann on the go, but when it's time I will.

It's nice to feel all set, at least for this reading project, to know what's next, allowing plenty of time for each work – i.e., as much as I please, with added benefit of being liberal with myself in picking and choosing.

And still, on the go in the background for the foreseeable future: Ulysses

 

* From Wikipedia:

"Avant-garde (French pronunciation: [avɑ̃ɡaʁd]); from French, "advance guard" or "vanguard"[1]) is a French term used in English as a noun or adjective to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics.

Avant-garde represents a pushing of the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm or the status quo, primarily in the cultural realm. The notion of the existence of the avant-garde is considered by some to be a hallmark of modernism, as distinct from postmodernism. Many artists have aligned themselves with the avant-garde movement and still continue to do so, tracing a history from Dada through the Situationists to postmodern artists such as the Language poets around 1981.[2]"

 

 

 

Hodge Podge of Books

 

Busy reading for review and even a bit for optional review. I always manage to squeeze in a little of both. That's what they call "life balance." Others may insist this is actually keeping your house clean, exercising, running errands and reading. But I'm not others. Work and pleasure; pleasure and work. And the occasional meal and bit of sleep.

Here's my current "balance:"

 

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Release Date: October 2, 2012

[Review copy from publisher.]

 

PenumbraA gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life—mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore

"The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore."

I'm afraid you'll have to hang out 'til sometime in Septemberish for more, as well as an interview with author Robin Sloan .

 

There Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty by Sebastian Barry

Penguin Books, (reprint edition, 1999)

[My personal copy, signed by the man himself.]

EneasmccnultyMe? Reading Sebastian Barry? I know, how unusual.  I've just heard such great things about him. Partly here on my blog but he seems to have caught on quite well in other places, too.

I've been in contact with Mr. Barry again and also reading every bit of interview material I can lay hands on; what I've learned about the man could almost write his autobiography. I'm not sure what he hasn't been asked, ad nauseum, which makes the fact I may have landed an interview with the great man (yes!) an incredibly intimidating experience – though, of course, that's not the only reason it ties my stomach in knots.

As an interviewer, you want to inform your readers about some of the basics but as an interviewer who's read what others have asked, I want to delve into uncharted waters, digging out questions that surprise him. In this case it's so terribly difficult, since so many have gotten there before me. So, if I do get the chance to query Mr. Barry don't expect the same old stuff. For that you can check out the dozens of previous interrogaters.

As for the actual book I'm currently reading, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, like the rest of his novels, is based on family history and the period of The Troubles in Ireland. Eneas, after having serve in World War I, joins "the British-led police force, the Royal Irish Constabulatory." That doesn't sound exceptional until you think about the time period. The Irish uprising is ripping the country apart in a brother-against-brother virtual civil war with England and amongst themselves. The Irish for the Republic have turned into a mafia. Anyone perceived as having helped support the English, no matter how inadvertantly, is – with few exceptions - slaughtered, cut down wherever they're found. And if a man tries to leave Ireland he's followed, to the ends of the earth, and executed, "justice" exacted for the love of country.

Eneas himself falls into the trap, having been witness to things beyond his control. Simply by being where he was and also refusing to participate in more violence, he's forced to flee, leaving behind his family and his beloved, Vivienne. Not that he doesn't fight for his right to stay. He's defiant and bold, leaving it 'ti lthe last minute before he sees there is really no recourse but to submit.

I could find a passage of unsurpassed beauty on any page, so I randomly turned to this expression of the ache for home:

 

"He sees the little bathing places of south Dublin, Sandycove, the Baths, the Forty Foot, places he barely knows, maybe visited the once in the old days when his mother would bring him to the capital… But his chest heaves with love, with peace, with pure need. It's the tobacco, the opium, of returning home. There might be angels standing on the rocky shores throwing out one after another bright ropes with grappling hooks to dig into and find purchase on his heart. One after another the arms rise like fishermen in the ancient like fishermen in the ancient days. Shortly he goes down riveted by his love, with the bolts of this love fastened into his skin…"

 

 

Other books in progress:

Fifty Shames of Earl Grey: A Parody by Fanny Merkin (a.k.a. Andrew Shaffer)

Be on the lookout for short review/author interview coming soon.

 

The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America by Martin Amis

Yes, my country takes a few slams but it's also clear there are a few compliments behind some of the blather. Amis amuses me no end; I can take the digs. In fact, I've made a few myself. If you read this, keep in mind he's married to an American and now lives in this country.

 

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

This must be one of the biggest books of the summer. I'm around 1/3 of the way in and finding the blurbs are overblown. I'm not sure what it is about some books, why writers and reviewers rally around them when they're nothing special, then ignore little gems that pass right under the radar. I'm so frustrated; it's so unjust.

 

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

Wonderful, wonderful so far.

 

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe (Nonfiction)

Got this ARC at Booktopia, Oxford, MS.:

"Mary Anne Schwalbe is waiting for her chemotherapy treatments when Will casually asks her what she’s reading. The conversation they have grows into tradition: soon they are reading the same books so they can have something to talk about in the hospital waiting room. The ones they choose range from classic to popular, from fantastic to spiritual, and we hear their passion for reading and their love for each other in their intimate and searching discussions.

A profoundly moving testament to the power of love between a child and parent, and the power of reading in our lives."

I'm in the midst of trying to connect with Will Schwalbe, to interview him but the book won't be published 'til October so that won't run for a couple of months or so.

 

 

In addition, still re-reading Pride and Prejudice – as my Guardian Top 1,000 Novels List read – as well as plugging away, slowly, at Ulysses. But this weekend won't see much reading getting done; my brother and his wife are coming a-visiting, which also means I need to get off this computer and "balance" my life by cleaning the place.

'Til next time.

Guardian UK – List of 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read

The fine folks at Guardian.co.uk have gone through the massive work involved in creating one of the most thorough, eclectic and wide-ranging lists of "bucket reads" I've yet to see and I see an awful lot of book lists. Every one I can get my hands on, plus every book written about books and reading. I am a serious, serious thing – a bit fixated, sort of OCD. And serious.

I created a separate page for this list in fact, for inclusion on the blog, and decided to use it as one of the mainstays of my reading because the list is spectacular. It's on the right, over there, look below my hopefully not too discomfiting staring eye under "Pages." There's a sport! (Have read a lot of P.G. Wodehouse.)

There are, as I put in the post title, 1,000 lovely delicacies awaiting me. One thousand, broken down by category:

Comedy

Crime

Family and Self

Love

Science Fiction and Fantasy

State of the Nation

War and Travel

Brilliant categories, if you read the listing of titles under each. They're so much more descriptive than: fiction, nonfiction, science fiction…, etc. A lot of work they've gone to and what a rich result. I'm still in the process of numbering them all but because I wanted to read something right away, I went to one of those random number generator sites and spun their wheel. The number I came up with was 447, corresponding with, and I'll tell you why this is ironic and pleases me no end in just a few seconds, Pride and Prejudice.

Pandpfolio

Now, the reason this book is so ideal… The Classics Book Group I belong to at the library, and have been piss poor attending because I haven't had the time to read any of their selections in a while, is slated to read this very novel for discussion next month. Yes! They are! Though I've read it multiple times (it may be the single book I've read most), swooning over Darcy, daydreaming of strangling the chattering noisebox Mrs. Bennet, Pride and Prejudice never gets old. Ever. If left stranded on a desert island, this would be one of those theoretical books I'd bring. If left on a desert island I'd be inclined to bring my favorite Mr. Darcy, as well.

Would that be allowed, do you think?

 

Firthdarcy

'ello, Poppet!

(That degenerated quickly. But, ladies reading this post, is there a way I could not have mentioned Colin Firth? Thought not.)

I could not be more happy with the results of this pick. It worked out so well, I want to go ahead and pick the next. It's addictive, in a nerdly sort of way. Librarian, book reviewer, book collector/hoarder, former bookseller… Yeah, addictive.

How I'd like to handle the long-term with, specifically, books published after this list was created (will have to double-check that, but not too many years ago), authors I love and plan to be a completist in reading and whim books is four-fold:

One: If the wheel spin lands on any book I can't lay hands on without terrific expense I will switch that book out with another.

Two: If I start one of the books on the list and realize I loathe it, off the list it goes.

Three: If I land on a book I've read, or won't read due to reasons I determine, I'll substitute.

Four: If I feel like it, I'll pick up another book and just read it.

Stringent, obviously.

This means the two major books I'm reading right now are Ulysses and Pride and Prejudice, with a few minor ones thrown in as accents, like throw pillows, to give the place an extra bit of ZING.

Let's go ahead and find out what the next read will be, as long as I'm at it:

530!

Death in Venice by Thomas Mann

 

Deathinvenice

Think I have a copy of it around here somewhere, a later edition of the one above, by the same publisher. I know where I bought it: at a used book sale way back in college. Hope I still have that copy; I'd like to be able to say I did ultimately read it. That it cost around a quarter is definitely not the point. It's the principle of the thing.

Anyone else get an itch to read the Guardian list please let me know. It would be fun playing along with someone else.

READING, I mean, you naughty thing.

 

Summing up:

Ulysses

Pride and Prejudice

Death in Venice

Imagine if I live long enough to get to Proust… Whew.