Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wit's End

It's such a beautiful day. The sun is out. My cat is enraptured by the birds that chatter outside our window. And sounds of baseball practice makes the day seem even more all-American perfect if that is at all possible.

I'm reading Karen Joy Fowler's Wit's End today. She reminds me of Ellen Raskin for some reason. The same loveable, but sometimes emotionally impaired characters. You sort of learn to love them unconditionally. That's something that most books can't make you do.

I worshipped Ellen Raskin as a child. The Westing Game gave me my first taste of great characters, and how disatrously flawed they could be. It's not often that a book can say something intelligent and at the same time have so much faith in human beings.

It's been a long time since I've found an author who writes for adults that has been able to inspire such feelings. It's delightful. I can't wait to read more of her. It's the perfect book for the perfect day.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Titus Groan and Reading Journals

A post that I forgot to post:

I have been reading a lot lately. But since a lot of the reading I am doing is not for leisure, it has been difficult blog about any of my thoughts.

As for aiming to have something to say about every book I read, it looks like a nearly impossible task at this point. I still want to develop the habit of keeping a reading journal—but somehow find it impossible to make this happen in a pratical way. The journal I chose is a bulky red leather tome that adds what feels like 5 pounds to anything that I carry. It’s not practical to keep handy, even if I had the good habit of taking it out and writing something when I’m reading, which of course I never think to do. The problem is time. I feel I have to speed through leisure reading because I feel guilty about all the work-related reading I have to do. Then of course, I speed through work-related reading because of the impending deadlines.

As I’m writing this entry, my mind is speeding through the amount of reading that I have to finish today. It’s ironic, because I’m reading a number of books that are so wonderful, for both work and leisure, yet I can’t seem to find the time to relish and digest any of it.

I hope I will be writing a entry on Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake, one of my favorite reads so far this year—which is saying something because I’ve also finished J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, as well as one brilliant and one very good short story collection by Alice Munro and Lorrie Morre, respectively.

What I think fascinates me about Titus Groan is it’s exsitence. It never ceases to amaze me that someone conceived this book, and penned these strange characters and the world that Gormenghast inhabits. It is also the first book that I have ever visualized. I am not a visual reader, and usually have to strain myself to imagine anything in detail, but with the world of Gormenghast, it was as if visions would just swim before me. It is superbly written, superbly described. It is from a different era, a different universe. The characters are so singular that they will probably stay with me for the rest of my life. This is what fantasy should be like.