Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I'm betwixt and between books and suddenly, pathetically, have too many books going at once. Have you seen those blogs where about 100 books at once are pictured in the sidebar? And you're wondering naively how the bloggers have time? Well, here are some recommendations for ditherers, some gleaned from boards, but most from my own library:

1. Something contemporary? I've begun AMERICA AMERICA by Ethan Canin, whose smooth, elegant writing makes contemporary fiction almost worthwhile. But (bad portent) I have begun a few contemporary novels lately and abandoned them. Essentially the world I know has nothing to do with any situation described in the 21st century novel. Here are some problems: (a) I am not rich, b) I do not live nor ever have lived in Manhattan, c) I am not a cocaine addict, d) did not graduate from a prep school ( we lived in small towns and crappy cities; at our schools we drank wine in borrowed science class beakersr; we only made about $10,000 a year at our refined liberal arts graduate jobs and slightly more at low-caste paralegal jobs, etc.). So...it’s not that I’m seeking MY world particularly, but I’m irritated by the dominance of the upper-class Ivy (Icy?)-league writers..

2. Try something Victorian, something vaguely reformist. Maybe George Eliot.

3. Daniel Defoe. JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEARS looks like post-apocalyptic science fiction.

4. CLAUDIUS THE GOD, a pretty good sequel to I, CLAUDIUS.

5. Nothing about curates, rectors, priests, etc. for a little while. There's been a little too much Mrs. Oliphant around lately.

If anyone has any suggestions, please comment.

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