Thursday, September 22, 2011

Light reading catch-up

I had such good intentions about making this a semester in which I would spread my work out evenly across the week, but in fact I worked so hard Sunday through Tuesday that I basically collapsed and could do nothing yesterday except exercise and read a novel (the first two thirds or so of Neal Stephenson's Reamde, on which my verdict so far is very similar to that of the Amazon reviewers - fun fast read, but there's not so much to it - it rather reminds me of Bruce Sterling's Islands in the Net - I prefer my female protagonists to have a more fully rendered interiority!). I must write comments on some assignments today, or Sunday will not be a pretty sight chez Davidson (I am doing a long swim on Saturday morning, one for which I am signally undertrained, and am not counting on any great level of mental acuity and application in the afternoon!).

Other light reading around the edges (really I feel I have had no time to read anything, but this is clearly a misapprehension of sorts, I seem to have read several novels): Marcus Sakey's excellent Chicago noir The Blade Itself; Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus (quite reasonably good, but falling under the same rubric as what William Empson diagnoses as "the badness of much nineteenth-century poetry," explained by him as being "written by critically sensitive people [who] admired the poetry of previous generations, very rightly, for the taste it left in the head, and, failing to realise that the process of putting such a taste into a reader's head involves a great deal of work which does not feel like a taste in the head while it is being done, attempting, therefore, to conceive a taste in the head and put it straight on to their paper, they produced tastes in the head which were in fact blurred, complacent, and unpleasing"). Unfair as a description of, say, Tennyson's best poems, and in a similar respect perhaps slightly unfair to apply to Morgenstern, but there is something to the diagnosis (and in fact this is, curiously, what Morgenstern's novel is about/thematizes, as her circus is even more clearly than her novel trying to 'put the taste into a reader's head' without grounding it effectively in technique).

Closing tabs:

Guinea pig rentals! (Via Tyler Cowen.)

Things Apple is worth more than.

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