Friday, September 29

Recent Perusals

Well, we can add Swann's Way to the growing list of novels that I lack the wherewithal to navigate in my current mindstate. I am in a significant reading rut and have decided to forsake the novel and spend my time perusing some short story masters.

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories - Flannery O'Connor
Sixty Stories - Donald Barthelme
Collected Stories - Isaac Babel
Selected Short Stories - Honoré de Balzac

Of the four I have to this point only completed a significant sample of O'Connor and Barthelme. This is my first experience reading either writer. "Grotesque" is the word that comes up again and again in discussion of O'Connor's work. Her stories are matter-of-fact and menacing in their portrayals of salvation. I am glad to be acquainted with her, and in awe of her ability to be so harmoniously dire and comedic. Barthelme is a writer of whom I could see the Book-Loop clan holding a mixed opinion. To me the man is downright brilliant. His short stories are brief, their relative simplicity belying an ingenuity of form. Why must "Postmodernist" be a pejorative label? But aside from the merits of his experimental style, Barthelme's stories are witty and far more playful in demeanor than the existentialists he is often lumped with. If a reader cannot delight in reading "Me and Miss Mandible" they should probably begin searching for a new hobby.

And yes, I am reading some non-fiction. On Mike's recommendation I picked up The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour Of Mankind's Greatest Invention at the library. Pretty self-explanatory from the title, and, let me tell ya, the story is more interesting than you might imagine and the writing is far less stilted than you might fear. I also got a dense looking tome called The History of the English Language, an acquisition made with much optimism that shall probably return to the library unread.

The Office's John Krasinski adapting David Foster Wallace story
Reimagining Madame Bovary 150 years after her birth
The Wanderer: The Last American Slave Ship
Can Men Write Romantic Novels?
Housekeeping vs. The Dirt, by Nick Hornby

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