Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A reading catch-up post

On Beauty by Zadie Smith—While I read this because of the connection to Howards End, I have to say now that I wish Smith had broken free from the Forster template and allowed her story to develop a bit more organically. The ending in particular is obviously shoehorned and could have been stronger if it had evolved a bit more naturally. Plus, despite Smith's blatant talent, she's not on Forster's level, and it's a distraction to have that thought in mind while you're reading.

Also, the editing should have been completed before the book was published: "For Monty, though, Carlene wanted to get something 'really nice', and so they decided to brave three blocks of snow-walking in order to reach a fancier, smaller, specialist boutique that might have the cane with the carved handle which that Carlene had in mind."

The March by E.L. Doctorow—I've got to go back now and read all those Doctorow novels I've missed since reading Ragtime and The Book of Daniel twenty plus years ago.

Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill by Mark Bittner—My plane book for the flight out to Utah. Finished it—in tears—the morning we drove out to the Swell. The documentary is being released on dvd on Dec. 27—I think that means it's intended to be my anniversary present this year.

The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee—Hadn't read this one since high school and needed to reread it since S. will be reading it as part of our unit on Thoreau, so it was plane reading from Salt Lake to Minneapolis. Don't know if this one has continued to be performed through the years but if it hasn't, it's due for a revival.

The blog's already getting hits for quotes from The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, so for those searching, here's a brief excerpt:

John: Welcome home. How's your overstuffed brain?

Henry. I've forgotten everything already.

John. At least you've got a diploma!

Henry. No, I don't.

John. Why not?

Henry. They charge you a dollar. And I wouldn't pay it.

John. But think how Mama would love it--your diploma from Harvard, framed on the wall!

Henry. Let every sheep keep his own skin.

Rising From the Plains by John McPhee—My first McPhee, unless you count daughter Martha. I made a stab at reading Basin and Range a few months back; I'll be returning to it now. This one's about geology in Wyoming and geologist David Love's Wyoming heritage. It's overdue, can't be renewed unless I switch it to S.'s card, yet I'm reluctant to return it to the library even though it's finished. I just like knowing it's readily available.

Still in progress: Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey—On our drive from Torrey to the Swell, our wrangler (who part-times in the local bookstore) and our outfitter's co-owner discussed and argued the merits of Abbey's brand of environmentalism--when they weren't dealing with flat tires on the horse trailer and pointing out geological wonders and bald eagles and fielding questions on farming and ranching practices in the high country from the rest of us. Desert Solitaire is the Abbey our wrangler most recommends and I'll be posting selections from it in the days to come.

Also still in progress: Walden, a delightful asj fanfic offering from Karen Sumners, and, on audio, Ackroyd's The Lambs of London.

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