Thursday, September 14

Spade Swann Bloom

Just to catch you up on things, my readings of both 1993 Was a Bad Year and City of Spades have been unsuccessful. With Bad Year I spent a few days reading and re-reading the first several pages. Nothing difficult to follow, nothing so beautiful that it demanded I linger, I just couldn't get beyond them. Whatever the reason I did not have the concentration for this book at this time--maybe it was too hopeless and not something I need to be reading right now. It is a very small book with fat print. I could read it in a about an hour. I could, but I couldn't. So, onto City of Spades. Not, as it turns out, "Britain's Catcher in the Rye. That label is designated for the second book in MacInnes's London Trilogy, Absolute Beginner. Meanwhile, this book, as the title not so subtly hints, is about London's influx of colonial Africans in the 1950s. With this one I made it to around page 50 before I decided that I was forcing the matter and I just needed to move on to Swann's Way. That's the thing, I should have read Swann's Way first. It has been sitting on my night stand waiting for me while I made these two futile attempts to read two books that I have only a mild interest in. I don't like giving up on books so early in the game but I've had some distractions and maybe Proust will allow me to focus.

I have also been hopping around Harold Bloom's Genius. It is a fun book in its own way. The manner in which Bloom has grouped the 100 writers and thinkers together into lustres makes the book easily navigable for someone like me who opts not to read all 814 pages in succession. The entries on each individual are brief, some of them providing an overview, others focusing on more specific qualities that Bloom finds most interesting. I have read so few of the works discussed in this book, but even without an intimate appreciation for many of the writers I am thoroughly enjoying the way in which Bloom makes connections between them, shaping in my mind a sort of outline for a family tree of poets, playwrights and authors. Inevitably it is Shakespeare who pops up again and again, but not always. Like the Book of Writers Talking to Writers, Genius is a book I will revisit often, whether it be for inspiration, edification or simple pleasure.

3 comments:

LTS said...

Not a Fante fan myself. You might even say I'm anti-Fante.

David Mitchell is out for the Booker Price--my condolences, Ben.

By the way, Ben, you really pull off the whole 100% decaffeinated thing with excellent aplomb. I would never have guessed.

Ho-hum... I wish I had a good book to recommend. I'm hurting, though, hurting bad.

Ben said...

I really did enjoy Ask the Dust, but there is a distinct possibility that my appreciation for Fante does not extend very far beyond that novel. I'll get back to you on this.

Bummer about the Booker. Meh, prizes are a pretty silly concept anyway. I was awfully surprised that Black Swan Green was posted as the favorite. If Mitchell were going to win such an award I would have expected Cloud Atlas, the far more daring work, to be the one. In 2004 it was also a favorite for the Booker Prize.

Decaffeinated green tea is the only warm beverage I consume. Well, occasionaly Prince of Wales, but by and large I run solely on antioxidants and oatmeal.

LTS said...

Antioxidants really are the shit. Oatmeal ain't too bad either.