Friday, July 13, 2007

Killing Me Softly With His Blog

I faced another obstacle this week in John's "The Great Wednesday Compare". I've never read a Kurt Vonnegut novel. No excuses. My first husband, Manfred, Sr., had them laying all over the house. My high school/college girlfriend, (who I'll refer to as The Sneerer) loved them and was fully conscious that she was hot shit for being able to discuss every single novel in detail. Getting back to Manfred, Sr., he even belonged to/helped found a science-fiction club at the University Of Oklahoma called "The Kilgore Trout Society" back in the late 1970s.

With all these horrendous Swiss-cheesy gaps in my reading, can I really call myself a true bookworm? Am I just a pretender to the shelves? I was thinking I'd just go ahead and make a clean breast of it and confess to some other books I haven't tackled, but Kurt is probably a big enough shocker for one entry. Maybe next time.

Today was the day Manfred, Jr. boarded the plane to return to the United States. How nice of the Koreans to locate the airport (a damn good one, BTW) in Incheon, which is near Seoul! After an affectionate parting with my spawn, I caught the bus back to Seoul Station, then took the subway over to Itaewon and hightailed it into What The Book?

A couple of blissful hours later, I stumbled out again with Slaughterhouse-Five and uh......nine other books. Sad but true-- I was running through What The Book? like a pig through the corn. But it's OK. It's not my fault. It's John's fault:

Slaughterhouse Five -Kurt Vonnegut
Fall On Your Knees -Ann-Marie MacDonald
Murther And Walking Spirits -Robertson Davies
Fifth Business -Robertson Davies [OK, I think the Canadians are well-represented]
Summer Of '49 -David Halberstam [I'm sorry Halberstam died. I always meant to read his baseball book]
Terrorist -John Updike [Good score. Found a used copy for about 5 dollars.]
American Pastoral -Philip Roth [I guess I'll see how far I can get on my Pulitzer-winning novels list this year.]
Living Reed -Pearl S. Buck [novel about Korea]
Hunger -Knut Hamsun [I vowed that if I saw this again, I'd grab it and stick it on the re-read shelf. Hunger is a novel that's 117 years old, but the writing is so fresh, not to mention kick-ass that it wears its age lightly. With an introduction by Paul Auster.]
Darkly Dreaming Dexter -Jeff Lindsay [Not really my type of thing, but I've heard so many good things about the new show based on these novels. There's a great picture of Michael C. Hall on the cover. It's so difficult to think of David Fisher from Six Feet Under as a serial killer!]

What The Book? has a bulletin board just outside the store, and someone stuck up a notice that he/she wants to start a book club, so I intend to respond. I just won't be satisfied until I've got the book subculture re: expats off the ground in this country!

18 comments:

John Mutford said...

I have some pretty monstrous gaps in my reading as well- can you believe I haven't read To Kill a Mocking Bird? I think they'll revoke my "well-read" badge should that get out. So many books, so little time, right?

Fall On Your Knees was good. I enjoyed Fifth Business too, though I did have issues. I've also never read any John Updike (!), and I guess I now need to read American Pastoral too. It's one of those books that didn't appeal to me initially, but I just don't want to be left out of the loop. Like a bunch of librarians hiding out behind the school, handing me a book, and saying, "C'mon, just try it, everybody else is..." Oh well, I couldn't fight peer pressure then, and I guess nothing's changed.

kookiejar said...

You're going to like 'Dexter' (the book). Plus with that pic of MCH on the cover how could you go wrong?

It only takes two episodes of the show to get David Fisher out of your mind (I know...I loved David so much, I can't tell you. Why was it so hard for him and Keith to be happy? WHY??)

MCH is a great actor.

Sam Houston said...

I think you're very lucky to have that bookstore near you there. One of the things that bothered me most about living in non-English speaking countries in the nineties was the lack of new books and magazines. The internet wasn't available to us in some of the more smaller cities until the late nineties so I thought I'd go nuts.

Like John said, I think we all have holes in our reading experience. I could easily shock you with some of mine. :-)

herschelian said...

I've had American Pastoral recommended to me twice in the last month...think I better get down to reading it. Let us know what you think after you've read it.

Tara said...

Shhh. I haven't read Vonnegut either, and my husband keeps telling me knew. Certainly there are many more gaps in my reading but I'll leave it at that. Great haul you got - I'm sure I would be tempted to snatch everything up if I was only in an English language bookstore every so often. Fall on Your Knees is a very intense book - I will look forward to your thoughts on it.

Bybee said...

John,
You have a good excuse, though: You're a lot younger than I am. I'm old enough to be your...well, babysitter. You've got lots of time to plug your reading gaps.

Kookiejar,
Oh, I've just got to see "Dexter"! Was that Season 1 or 2 that just finished?

Sam,
I find it hard to believe that you have any holes in your reading.
You're right, we're lucky to have What The Book? here in Korea. It's a 3 hour train ride then 10 minutes on the subway finished by a hike uphill, but worth every bit of the journey. Hmmm, if I look for a new job, that can be one of my criteria: How close is your school to What The Book? .

Herschelian,
It's funny how certain book titles keep popping up over and over, isn't it?

Tara,
I thought I was the only one who hadn't read KV. Your secret is safe with me and...?
You would not believe all the stuff I wanted to grab but had to leave behind in What The Book? I'll mention one thing: A new gift set of the 8 "Anne" books.

Eva said...

I've only read Cat's Cradle, and that was only earlier this year, because I felt that since he died I should probably read something in honor of him. :)

I've never read anything by Updike, like John. I'm sure I tons of gaps in my reading that I'm simply completely unaware of, lol.

Poodlerat said...

I'm halfway through Fall On Your Knees, and it's sad but excellent. Fifth Business is one of my favourite books and, amazingly for a trilogy, the sequels are equally good.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter is on my TBR list, too---like you, I've heard so many good things about it, and the premise sounds interesting.

kookiejar said...

Bybee, Season one just finished and Season Two starts in October. I can't wait!

J.S. Peyton said...

You could probably drive a tractor-trailer through the huge gaps in my reading experience. Here's a good one: The Catcher in the Rye. I have it, I've just never gotten around to reading it. But you've inspired me. Maybe when I get home I'll pick it up and give it a go.

Carrie K said...

Now I want to hear what the other gaps in your reading are......that's a great list of books you picked up. Represent! ;)

Writer, Rejected said...

Oh but I'm so glad you are filling in on the old KV Jr.Gap! I think Vonnegu is actually a great old soul of a writer, may he rest in peace. I have a little blog-note about his kind attitude toward other novelists. Truly a gentleman. Check it out on my blog about literary rejections at:

http://literaryrejectionsondisplay.blogspot.com/2007/07/who-is-winning-this-war.html

Dark Orpheus said...

oLooks like you have a fair bit of reading ahead of you.

I've also neglected Vonnegut in my readings. Read "Mother Night" and I found it so sad, but yet, I wonder why I never picked up anything else?

I loved both Robertson Davies and Ann-Marie MacDonald - but I just realised I read both authors on my travels.

"Fall On Your Knees" was beautifully written. the story was haunted, tragic, yet it has this message of the possibility of love and forgiveness.

Read the entire "Deptford Trilogy" last year and I became a Robertson Davies fan. So I brought "The Cornish Trilogy" with me to Turkey earlier this year - and it was even better. So full of heart, warmth and humour.

I always wanted to pick up "Hunger" - yet never found the time.

I've actually tried to read "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" last month - but I found the characters rather stilted, the dialogues painfully flat. So I abandoned it halfway. Still, I'll probably wait for the DVDs and watch season 1 of the TV series that I've heard so much about.

Bybee said...

Eva,
For Updike, I recommend the four "Rabbit" books, or his memoir, "Self-Consciousness".

Poodlerat,
I'm going to have to move Fall On Your Knees closer to the top of Mt. TBR. Darkly Dreaming Dexter became devoured Dexter in a hurry. One chapter called for another. I'd read 2 "girly" books in a row, and it was refreshing.

Kookiejar,
Looks like Season 1 comes out August 21. I hope to pick it up before I head back to Korea.

J.S.,
I know someone who refuses to read Catcher In The Rye because that was the novel Chapman had when he killed John Lennon.

Carrie K,
I'm planning a confession blog entry. It's a doozy.

Writer Rejected,
You're always accepted at this blog! Thanks for your comments about Vonnegut. I did read a memoir his son wrote called The Eden Express.

Dark Orpheus,
I'm looking forward to becoming a Robertson Davies fan.

Yeah, Darkly Dreaming Dexter was written in a slightly flat hardboiled style, and I really wasn't interested in any of the characters but him, but it was still a fun read. I'll look for Dearly Devoted Dexter during my travels.

Carrie K said...

Confession blog entry! Awesome.

Bookfool said...

Geez, I just read Dickens for the first time. I think. I can't decide whether or not I've read A Christmas Carol. We all have gaps.

Slaughterhouse Five is great. And, I read Firehouse by Halberstam - loved it. I'm kind of annoyed with that driver who got him killed, but I think he's going to suffer for it.

BabelBabe said...

i ADORE Robertson Davies but Murther is his weakest book. I would suggest starting with Cuning Man, or the Deptford or Salterton trilogy. that's just me.

and if it makes you fele better, i JUST read Slaughterhouse Five last month. and my husband has them lying all over as wel..

BabelBabe said...

also, i swear, i can spell. i just can't TYPE : ) esp. when excited about books.