Thursday, July 17, 2008


It’s very difficult to keep a daily reading journal, the kind of thing I used to ask my students to do in a “Writing about Literature” class. My students didn’t know what a reading journal was. Neither did I. But they'd scribble about Heart of Darkness or P. G. Wodehouse or whatever they were reading and I’d write about what I was reading and occasionally we’d read bits aloud. They’d groan when I read mine: “Not E.M.. Forster again.” But I was reading about E. M. Forster and, believe me, they learned about him

I've been drinking a lot of iced tea lately. I mean a lot. It is very hot here and there's a constant struggle about whether to keep the air conditioner on. So I've been reading Angela Thirkell.

She was the granddaughter of Burne-Jones, and made her living as a writer from the age of 30 on. Her novels are witty in a somewhat subdued goofy way (though this might offend class-conscious people: her people are snobs, but the humor makes them occupy their own little world: nothing like any world I know). Angela Thirkell's What Did It Mean? made me laugh so hard I forget about the humidity. No one reads her anymore except for members of the Angela Thirkell Society. Go to their web site and learn all about her books.

George Meredith’s One of Our Conquerors is temporarily on hiatus: the yellow pages in the 1914 edition crumble in my hands. One of Our Conquerors is, however, available in some new paperbacks( published by (Kessinger or BiblioBazaar) and I have ordered a new copy. (This also might be available online, but I haven't looked.)

In the meantime I’m beginning Hostages to Fortune by Elizabeth Cambridge. The Persephone web site say it’s being reprinted so I feel incredibly lucky to have a copy. The Saturday Review i in 1933 said it was not "a beach companion" but “a book to be read and relished in an armchair at home.” So those of us who don't go to the beach much won't feel intimidated.

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