Tuesday, July 18, 2017

All Around My Reading Week

Eeyore and me.

Last week was all over the bookworm place. I had the sweetest book hangover that I did not want to get over; revisited a lifelong favorite; stalled and stumbled around in a novel that I read a long time ago, according to my 1990s book journal; meandered into a sequel without reading the prequel; flung myself with abandon into a new and promisingly scrumptious read; and flung (with a curse) a 1950s classic(???) as far as I could without getting myself thrown out of the county library.

No, it didn't all happen in this order. Yes, I am fond of the word "flung".

Sweetest book hangover:
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. I loved this book so hard that I both audiobooked and printed-paged it. Can't remember exactly what I said in my last blog post, but double that. I'm in awe: How did Towles convey through prose, the satiny, silvery effect of old movies while making 1938 feel as immediate as 2017? New York! Walker Evans! The days are just packed; I have tons of new things to feel obsessive about.

A lifelong favorite:
Recently, I bought the 50th anniversary edition of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I don't recall when I first read this book. Sixth grade? Seventh grade? I remember the mod-looking cover where the greasers are looking tough (and tuff), slouching and leaning nonchalantly on one another's shoulders. Not a big fan of the movie when it finally came out. Tom Cruise as Two-Bit? Noooooo. What struck me during this reread? I didn't remember the fever pitch of emotion that permeates the novel. Sandy, Sodapop's girlfriend is sent away to live with her grandmother when she turns up pregnant -- that went right over my head during my first few readings. DX gas stations! Full service! Times have changed. I felt much more empathy for Darry, Ponyboy's oldest brother, who is trying to keep the family together since their parents were killed in a car wreck. Otherwise, everything was the same: Cherry Valance still annoyed me, Johnny and Dally broke my heart, Two-Bit made me laugh, and Ponyboy? He digs okay.

Stalled and stumbled around:
 I started Clockers by Richard Price a few weeks ago, but I'm having trouble getting into it. The novel seemed familiar, so I rummaged back through my first book journal, and there it was, one of the first books of 1994. Not ready to give up on it yet -- the cadences of the novel are jumpy and jerky, much like its urban setting, and I can't settle in, but I will. It's good.

Flung myself with abandon:
After Rules of Civility, I became a one-track bookworm. Happily, Amor Towles published Rules back in 2011, which means that enough time had elapsed for him to craft another treasure, which I promptly found: A Gentleman in Moscow (2016) takes place in Russia, 1922. Count Alexander Rostov has written a poem that has put the Bolsheviks' noses out of joint. Instead of execution, he is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol Hotel. I've only just started this novel, and I want to be put on house arrest with lots of coffee and sandwiches and chocolate while I read uninterrupted. So far, no luck on that part. Oh, come on, world! I've been a bad, bad girl!

Meandered into a sequel:
For my audiobook, I'm listening to Everybody's Fool by Richard Russo. At first, I was having some trouble getting into the story and feeling as if I should have read Nobody's Fool first. This is not my first outing with Russo. I read The Risk Pool, which didn't excite me, and Pulitzer Prize-winning Empire Falls, which I did like. Russo is like the male Anne Tyler: quirky characters, strange situations against the backdrop of everyday life and the bigger questions about life, love, suffering and death. I'm on disc 4 and finally settling in. Hell, I may go on a Richard Russo binge read.

Flung with a curse:
I haven't flung a book since I hurled Atlas Shrugged out of a window back in 2005 in Korea! The projectile in question this time was Marjorie Morningstar, a 1955 novel by Herman Wouk. For a few days after, all I could say was: "Umm, no. Hell no." The book may be a brilliant snapshot of New York in the early 1930s, but Herman Wouk is a bit tone-deaf, writing from the female point of view. When the male characters are given voice, they're just cringe-y. Milton Schwartz needs to be hung out on the line with Angel Clare. I thought this book might be a classic, finely aged like wine or cheese, but it's aged badly -- more like dairy or vegetables. I cursed and flung and I'll never be sorry.


Unruly Reader said...

Oh, I'm so delighted that you're in the midst of an Amor Towles spree! There's happiness ahead, my dear Bybee!

Thanks for the warning about the Wouk book. I'll duck if I see it winging my way.

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Angela said...

Is it weird that I really want to read Marjorie Mornstar now just to see if I dislike it as much as you did? I think I have it in my to-read stacks somewhere.

Angela said...

Oops, typo. I meant Marjorie Morningstar. I was so preoccupied with trying to figure out where that book is in my to-read stacks, that I wrote the name wrong!