Monday, September 05, 2011

Light reading catch-up

Plane fare: Eric Nylund's Mortal Coils (good of its kind, and a kind I have traditionally liked quite a bit, but I am swearing off eschatological fantasy for a while, the vein has been too deeply mined!); first volume of Daniel Woodrell's Bayou Trilogy, about which more anon when I have finished it all (the prose is excellent, setting too, but sometimes hard to tell one character from another, that's my only complaint).

Found an amazing stash of stuff waiting for me at home. Seized upon Elisabeth Townsend's Lobster: A Global History, which has a most beautiful cover and also an alluring name but which did not quite live up to my expectations (it is good for what it is, but it is a serious little book about the history of lobster-eating, not a strange and postmodern Sebaldian exercise as I had fantasized - that said, the bits on lobster nomenclature I found highly worthwhile [scrubs, shorts, etc.!], and also the pictures of the 'hotels for lobsters' where the live creatures are stored before they are brought to market). Then devoured 'Jane Emerson''s City of Diamond, perhaps not quite as immediately delightful as the same author's Ivory trilogy but only because the material is rather darker - still the same great gifts of storytelling and characterization. It is silly to say anyone is a natural anything if one does not know their history and background, for all I know this craft was carefully honed over many years, but I do not know that I can think off the top of my head of any novelist I've encountered with greater natural storytelling gifts than Doris Egan: it makes sense to me, alas, that she has found it better worth her while to work in television!

A host of other treasures await, but school starts tomorrow and I will definitely start to be busy again - I don't actually teach until next Monday, due to an oddity of schedule, but I need to write the letters of recommendation I was already saying I had to write last week, and finalize my syllabi and check on course book orders, and have some meetings with grad students, etc. etc. I'm doing a big race on Sunday (course was significantly affected by Irene, and has been altered and to some extent curtailed, but as I am very undertrained I am not complaining). It is good, I like it best when I face a long and varied to-do list!

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