Sunday, April 22, 2018

What I Talk About When I Talk About Reading

I tried several times, but couldn't get this post off the ground. After a great deal of cursing and sweating, I decided to ask myself questions.

Did you notice that you were wrong again with your Pulitzer Fiction prediction?
Yes. There needs to be a new word for my level of perennial wrongness; it's truly breathtaking.

How do you feel about how it all shook out this year?
After my initial surprise, I hied myself down to the bookstore to order a copy of Less for my permanent Pulitzer shelf as well as my immediate future reading enjoyment. Can't wait to read it!

How about that biography winner?!
GASP!  Prairie Fires! I was completely delighted, and my joy was compounded upon realizing that I own a hardcover first edition. When I first read the book, I was struck by the brilliance of the research, construction and writing. There was not a wasted page; the editing is top-notch as well. I'll be reading Prairie Fires again soon and pestering my fellow bookworms to follow my good example. So glad the enigmatic Pulitzer committee saw things as I did.

Have you read any Pulitzer fiction winners lately?
Aaargh. I read the 1942 winner, In This Our Life. Not my favorite. I had high expectations because I loved the movie version starring Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland. This was a case of Hollywood improving on a book. The screenwriter took this bloated, analytical novel and using some sort of alchemy, got it in fighting trim. I understand why it may have won the Pulitzer, but it's aged badly.

What are you reading now?
A couple of weeks ago, I found a copy of Life Plus 99 Years by Nathan F. Leopold (of Leopold and Loeb infamy). Although it was an autobiography/memoir, the book seemed evasive. Dishonesty fairly oozed out of the prose. Of course it was written about the time Leopold became eligible for parole (Loeb was murdered about ten years after the pair went to prison), so he was writing with one eye on  a specific audience, casting himself in the best possible light. In the book, Leopold wrote about a visit from author Meyer Levin and Levin's plans to write a novel based on the murder case. Leopold went on to discuss the result, Compulsion (1956) in scathing terms. It was the only time in Life Plus 99 Years that his carefully constructed mask seemed to come off. Of course I had to read Compulsion, which is creepily good in that In Cold Blood sort of way although Meyer Levin lacks Truman Capote's delicate touch with the written word. I also checked out a detailed nonfiction account titled The Crime of the Century.

Do you plan to have fun, fun, fun! at the Readathon?
Yes! I'm so tired of missing the Readathon allllllll the time since I moved back to the United States. Plopping myself down somewhere reader-friendly next Saturday, I shall refuse to be moved. Unruly Reader is helping me to start out in fine style; she gifted me a copy of The Teammates by David Halberstam. I'll do an update or two here on Blob, but I'll mostly be doing quick check-ins on Twitter @susanandbooks and at Goodreads where I'm SusanInSedalia. I'll devote this week to figuring out the rest of my stack and snacks. Any suggestions?

1 comment:

Unruly Reader said...

Your comments here have compelled me to add Prairie Fires to my TBR. The fact that you loved the structure was the thing.

Ooooo! I hope Halberstam was good Readathon company!