Friday, July 29, 2011

Oh happy day!

Brent stopped at home mid-morning with a Book Depository package for me that had arrived at his post-office box (there is no home mail delivery in Cayman). Initial slight disappointment, after I ripped it open, that it was not the new Hollinghurst novel (but that should be coming in near future!), soon remedied as I immersed myself in one of the most lovely books I have read this year, something I had forgotten I'd ordered at the same time: Barbara Trapido's Sex and Stravinsky. Trapido is one of my favorite novelists, and it's a slight mystery to me why she's not better-known in the U.S. I couldn't put it down! Alas, it is now finished, but it was bliss while it lasted...

Still feeling somewhat ill, but definitely on the mend compared to yesterday. I would think it will be Monday before I can exercise again, I am resigned to it. Have spent most of these week lying on the couch feeling fairly languidly ill and reading some good books.

(Work proceeds in fits and starts on the style revision, but I think I got quite a bit done in the first half of the week before illness made me lose momentum. Will pick up again properly on Monday.)

Glen Duncan's The Last Werewolf really is very good indeed, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Also enjoyed Lydia Millet's young-adult novel The Fires Beneath the Sea.

At the very good local bookstore on Wednesday (I was putting in a special order for three books I 'need' for the style revision, they should be here in about two weeks: you will see the lines I am thinking along if I tell you that they are three particular favorites, Francis Spufford's The Child That Books Built and Thomas Bernhard's Wittgenstein's Nephew and David Markson's Reader's Block), I spotted a book that I had no idea existed: Ann Brashares' 10-years-later followup to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (to which my lovely student Lynn Copes introduced me some years ago), Sisterhood Everlasting. I will slightly remorsefully add that I did not purchase it at the bookstore, but downloaded it onto my Kindle when I got home.

The other novel I read this week was a reread of something I liked very much when I first encountered it as an undergraduate (I don't think I read it for a class, either I just picked it up somewhere or possibly it was a recommendation from Marina Van Zuylen), Dostoevsky's Demons. I found the first third or so quite difficult to get into (I wasn't sure whether it might have something to do with the translation, or possibly reading on the Kindle), but after that it is highly immersive, and the last third or so is so propulsively written that it's pretty much impossible to put down: it is a strangely structured and narrated book, interesting, very modern in its topics and preoccupations (it is a genealogy of terror that recognizably links Dostoevsky's Russia to what happened last week in Norway). I think the next one to reread is Conrad's The Secret Agent, which also made a strong impression on me when I first read it (really it is the only novel of Conrad's I have a lot of time for, something about his writing is anathema to me elsewhere!).

1 comment:

  1. Agree re merits of "Secret Agent" vs. rest of Conrad. (Secret Agent is paired in my mind with Chesterton's "Man Who Was Thursday," which was published at virtually the same time.)

    W's Nephew is indeed a terrific novel -- which I think you recommended at some point, thanks! ("W's X" seems a remarkably popular template. I see that Markson wrote a book called W's Mistress, which I haven't read. And then there's W's Ladder, and W's Poker...)