Thursday, September 15, 2011

Light reading catch-up

Really I have been too busy to have much time for novel-reading, it is the way of the beginning of the semester, and in fact the next 4 weeks now look slightly dauntingly overscheduled. Have squeezed in a few things round the edges: Laurie King's latest installment about Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, The Pirate King; George Pelecanos's The Cut. I had a really wonderful collection of pieces by Mark Kingwell sent to me as PDFs: I'm not sure if this link is subscriber-only, but the Fukuyama takedown in the August issue of Harper's was especially delightful to me (it is rare that the stars come into alignment for this sort of piece to be so good - Mark is supremely intelligent but also essentially kind-hearted rather than vicious, and Fukuyama is so eminent and to some extent so distinctly above the fray that there is none of the usual worry I experience reading this sort of piece about its subject might feel!), and I was also very tickled by his piece "As It Were," on the metaphysics and ethics of fiction (I think it's in this collection?).

Haven't gone to any more plays (got an Ionesco on the slate for next week, though), but though lavish restaurant-eating without prefatory theatergoing seems somewhat immoral, I was treated to a very lovely lunch yesterday at Petrossian by my friend and former student Julia Hoban.

I promised thoughts on the style of Daniel Woodrell's Bayou Trilogy, which I enjoyed a good deal. (It also made me wonder why I hadn't thought to put Chester Himes into my style book - I was incredibly taken with Himes about ten years ago, I should look back and see if there's anything that I could grab there to add and round things out.) I really love noir in all of its literary incarnations, the stripped-down kind as well as the baroque (Megan Abbott is another good example I have come across recently), and Woodrell's sentences are arresting, over-the-top in a way that spins from one end of the spectrum to the other:
They took a table in the back, far removed from the other customers. The Catfish drew a decent lunch business but it was still too early for the legitimately hungry to appear, so the few tables of customers were made up of unemployed, but entrepreneurial, young men, as well as the diurnal conventions of phlegmatic tipplers.

The benefits of racquetball and modest weight training gave her arms a fetching versatility of attitude.

Tip Shade was a jumbo package of pock-faced bruiser, with long brown hair greased behind his ears, hanging to his shoulders. His eyes were of a common but unnamed brown hue. He tended to scowl by reflex and grunt in response. His neck was a holdover from some normal-necked person's nightmare, and when he crossed his arms it looked like two large snakes procreating a third.
And here is Woodrell in retrospection: "My love for pulp and for other forms of fiction seems obvious on every page. I was and am much taken with the sort of language that can hold high and low expression in the same sentence. Rough and refined."

And I read one other very good book too, now that I think of it: the near-final draft of a friend's memoir, forthcoming next year. I opened the file on my Kindle intending just to read a little bit of it last night, but I ended up staying up till it was done!

1 comment:

  1. Please share some inpirational Book.