Sunday, June 22, 2008
Sunday Salon: Petty Reading
I've focused on three books this past week, a small number for some of you. Yet I'd much prefer concentrating on one novel at a time and I kept hoping all week that one would grab my total attention instead of leaving me internally agitating to start one of the many library books that came into my possession over the past few days that seemed much more promising than those already in progress (more on the library books later).
Most of my time was spent on Les Miserables. I read Fantine in April, set the book aside in May since I knew I was too distracted then to make it through 50 pages of Waterloo, and am now determined to finish Cosette in the next day or two (I hope tonight); I've just "Cemeteries Take What is Given Them" to go.
I have always considered myself a great fan of literary disgressions, of authors going off on tangents. But Tristram Shandy poked a hole in that idea last summer and Hugo's doing the same this. Actually, Hugo's sewer systems defeated me years back, so I don't know why I expected things to go better this time around, in a novel even longer than the one attempted before.
All I can say at this point in Les Mis is without a bit more plot and character, I may resort to (that dread word) skimming. As Stephen Colbert would say: Les Mis, you have been put on notice.
Last weekend in the book store I spotted David Rabe's Dinosaurs on the Roof, a just-published novel of which I'd missed any previous mention. I was interested in how the writer would expand upon the opening premise--an older woman asks her best friend's daughter to take care of her animals because the Rapture's occurring that evening and she's to be taken--since it seems better suited to a short story than a novel. Instead of waiting to get it from the library, I bought a copy for the Kindle. It's okay, but so far I'm still waiting to get over the snit fit I had when Rabe claimed that the older woman watched both The Guiding Light and General Hospital--how can she when the shows are rivals? According to the acknowlegements at the end, tons of people read this book prior to publication; obviously, they all grew up in homes way too refined for the watching of soaps to have occurred, but surely it should have crossed someone's head to check a TV listing.
I have no petty complaints to make about Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford. It's my exercise book, however, and I haven't been on the treadmill nearly enough this week.
I'm looking forward to starting the next book for the Slaves of Golconda, Edith Wharton's Glimpses of the Moon and I probably ought to start working out some of my readerly frustrations with Flannery O'Connor's Everything That Rises Must Converge. I'm sure my mood will improve quickly once these books are underway.