Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Immediate Book Meme

photo by Evan Laurence Bench

There are plenty of memes that want to know all about your book history and your all-time greats and your grand ambitions, but let's focus on something more revealing: the books you're actually reading now, or just read, or are about to read. Let's call it The Immediate Book Meme.

1. What book are you reading now?

Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain
Twain being Twain. I can only take small doses, but he's worth it.

Arcadia, by Iain Pears
Starts off in the present tense, which puts my hackles up. Professor acquaintance of Tolkien and Lewis wants to create his own fantasy world, without having a story to tell about it. Girl gets into the world. Not really gripping, so far.

The Betrothed, by Alessandro Manzoni


2. What book did you just finish?

Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings, by Stephen O'Connor
There was a interesting novel of moral choices buried here, obscured by pages of pretentious abstractions in which we hike literally through Jefferson's psyche, we witness Jefferson watching a movie about himself, we follow Jefferson and Hemings as they check out the Museum of Miscegenation, the author muses about colors, and we squirm through segments of self-righteous wish-fulfillment in which Jefferson is a prisoner being tortured by a sadistic guard for being evil. Perhaps the author doesn't realize, or perhaps he does, that he is creating his own Sally Hemings as much as he convicts Jefferson of doing. And all this, without mentioning the loathed present tense format of the more novelistic scenes. Egad. Special mention, though to the moving depictions of a slave auction and the death of beloved children.

Septimania, by Jonathan Levi
Ludicrous theological errors on page one made it impossible for me to suspend disbelief through a narrative that really needed suspension of disbelief. Also, I've read Umberto Eco, and you, sir, are no Umberto Eco

Plantation Parade, by Harnett Kane
The histories of several notable plantations along the Mississippi, with a keen sense of the wheel of time and fortune turning.

Ghosts Along the Mississippi, by Clarence John Laughlin
The purplest of prose, but the photos are gripping.

3. What do you plan to read next?

Ad Pyrrham, by Ronald Storrs

Scarpia, by Piers Paul Read

Queen of the Night, by Alexander Chee

Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar, by Amy and Leon Kass

4. What book do you keep meaning to finish?

John Adams, by David McCullough

The Iliad, translated by Caroline Alexander

5. What book do you keep meaning to start?

Nothing making me feel guilty at the moment.

6. What is your current reading trend?

New fiction which is highly reviewed by the WSJ.


Hypatia said...

If this is the first Pears you've read, I'd recommend you ditch it and try his 'Instance of the Fingerpost' instead. It's a whodunnit set in c.17th Oxford: really evocative, intricate knowledge of the religious schisms and political intrigues of the era, and a completely barmy plot at the end. I enjoyed it so much.

MrsDarwin said...

I think I will. I've heard good things about An Instance of the Fingerpost.

Update: so far, Queen of the Night is mostly interesting, but feels very unsavory. Every time a child approaches, I instinctively turn the book away, and I don't like to read like that. There's not much moral center so far, and I'm not particularly drawn to this character. Maybe it gets better? I don't know why I should think so -- generally if you only keep going on the "gets better?" principle, you're generally disappointed. I guess I just want to know what happens, not on the character level, but to find out what the author thinks he's doing.

Joseph Moore said...

Cool. Started giving answers, but is got so long I just threw my answers up as a post on my blog: