Initially, I felt as if I didn’t get much reading done or much of a chance to get it done. Despite traveling to Wisconsin at the beginning of the month, it didn’t seem to minimize my bookishness in the grand scheme of things. When I went to note down what actually crossed my eyes or ears, I was astounded. Frankly, I closed out September and began October with a force, listening to Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. This is enough in itself to be proud about. I really really liked it; I loved it. The relationship conflicts and distress within the characters, the navigation of social norms and perceived expectations, and sadly, the patriarchal advantages are all very comprehensive with today’s reader too. Why do classics get a reputation as unapproachable?
I attempted my 3rd book by Neil Gaiman in listening to The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I began fairly enthralled with this story of an adult drawn back to his past for a funeral, simultaneouly reacquainting with the memory of a young neighbor girl. It’s both dark: confronting a suicide; and relatable: desires of recapturing childhood. There are a number of precocious insights from the young minds; the grown-up man now recalling this history and the young girl who provoked so much. the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.Tragically, honestly, I gave up a good 100 pages short of finishing it, because I just wasn’t paying attention enough to enjoy…I’m sure I would’ve like it otherwise. I dropped the ball on this one. Apologies to his fans. I start to lose interest with fantasies though, because I just can’t keep going down the rabbit hole.
Any book is difficult when the attention isn’t deliberate.
Neil Gaiman writes richly. And just like eating dark chocolate, a little goes a long way. I will try this one again.
All books fall within genres, categories. Stephen King is considered an exceptional talent, yet not everyone can stand the fear and horror his stories illicit. Each author has an audience.
After listening to the my first Tana French -a fierce and petite, pixie cut, Irish redhead- back in September, I got a hard copy of another from the library. And blew through it. She has two protagonist in her detective novels. Since the first listen was narrated by a female, I have subsequently heard a female tone. By default. She does exceptionally well with the male perspective regardless. I suck it up to my initial intro. As I said before, intelligent detective or mystery reads are candy in my otherwise clean-eating diet of books. There’s no password more powerful than your past.
I ordered and read the latest Man Booker Prize novel Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. My initial reason for doing so had less to do with glowing reviews and more to do with having not read any foreign contemporary writers in a while. Contemporary, yes. Foreign, no. I do this thing where I find an author then want to capture their older work too. This sucks up time; inevitably I lose track of the newest releases. Also, I wanted to read this for the current politics of place. The book begins in Pakistan and is told from the minds of two youngish adults who find sanctuary and tenderness with each other. They inevitably escape, and the latter half of the book is existing together in other almost equally devastating, slightly fantastical environments. The writing flows in a poetic cadence. [I keep starting and then deleting a sentence about how the book could be longer and why…] The book is better served by being concise.
I had started George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia but put it down when other downloads auto-uploaded or Exit West arrived. I will finish it this next week. I kept hearing how it was Orwell’s best writing, how this is the one people should know him by, not 1984 Well, they’re very different. You can add me to the cheerleading roster list for this one though, too. It’s his account of willfully signing up for and being on the front lines of the Spanish Civil War. He deliberates and negotiates the attributes of Fascism and Communism, all the while holding both in disdain and looking down upon most of the comrades-locals-infantry men he converses with. [I am only 1/8 through, so next month, this perception could be revised] Regardless, what makes this book exquisite is the simple descriptions of complex human nature. His sentences are both basic and brilliant. It’s a thin book, dense. It still reads fast. I find myself deliberately revisiting lines, lingering. …the pathetic reverence that illiterate people have for their supposed superiors. // I hope he liked me as well as I liked him. But I also knew that to retain my first impression of him I must not see him again.
The pièce de résistance to the this month: I have just finished (October 30th) Joseph Anton, A Memoir by Salman Rushdie. Anton is the pseudonym Rushdie chose after a fatwa was put out on him by Ayatollah Khomeini. There were protests, riots, and death threats via the entire Muslim world, all for publishing The Satanic Verses. I have read most of Salman Rushdie’s books and this memoir will go down as a favorite. It covers all the aftereffects in publishing of The Satanic Verses: the global responses; the undercover, incognito, security required and government(s) involvement in keeping him alive for so many years; the tragic deaths as a result of acquainting with him; his personal life, marriages, and family; meetings with politicians, other authors, a slew of famous individuals (not casual name dropping; genuine friends in his rolodex), and the very basic pain and fear of having to live this way, etc…I could keep going. The book is long and so consistently riveting. He is such an intellectual superior among his literary peers. I believe thousands of writers would agree. I listened via the Overdrive library app. I ordered a hardcopy, as my bookshelf will relish the addition. I will read the hardback, now arrived, and inevitably digest it in a fresher way. So much relates to NOW: the politics; division; conversations we are having to have. The Satanic Verses was published in 1988 and reading about the aftermath of the publication and the responses to it couldn’t be more relatable. Sadly.
I already have a stack patiently waiting to be tended to and coddled in my (freezing) fall-winter hands. Stay tuned.