Tuesday, April 22, 2008

April Update

As April comes to a close, so does most of my monthly reading. There is always a feeling of anxiety about this time of the month regarding books. It’s an anxiousness to finish the damn things already, and also the feeling of saying goodbye to someone with whom you’ve spent the last month.

I’m plodding along through Dance to the Music of Time (2nd movement) but not as wearily as I did in the first movement. I’m starting to figure some things out in this book:
  1. New people are often introduced so that they can reintroduce people Jenkins already knows. For example: Heather Hopkins shows up at Norah and Eleanor’s apartment to borrow an egg. It is casually introduced that she has an upcoming piano gig with “that queen” Max Pilgrim – the one that Deacon yelled at at Milly Andriadis’s party in “A Buyer’s Market.”
  2. The plot is driven along SOLELY because Jenkins keeps getting invited to parties. He is at work, then his co-worker Chips takes him to his aunt’s house, where there’s a party going on. At her house, he runs into Mrs. Conyers, an old friend of the family. She invites him over to her place. There, he meets Frederica Tolland, who takes him to see her sister and his old friend Eleanor. Other than his dinner with Widmerpool, that’s all that has happened in the first 100 pages of the 2nd movement. Jenkins just ran into Quiggin and was invited to his cottage, so I imagine that the third chapter will be about that.

I think, however, that TIME magazine’s description of the appeal of this “dodecahedral masterpiece” sums up what makes it enduring and actually better than one (myself included) might originally think:

“Beginning in the 1920's, A Dance to the Music of Time follows the lives of a group of English friends and acquaintances as they make their various ways through life: meeting and parting, succeeding and failing, loving and hating, living and dying. There is ample room for both comedy and tragedy in this capacious, large-hearted work, but Powell's real triumph is the way he catches the rhythm of fate itself, the way it brings people together, only to spin them apart, then reunite them later as near-strangers, transformed in unexpected ways by the intervening years."

The other books that I’m finishing up are Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop and E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India. My step-mother-in-law loaned me Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. I had seen this book in stores over the last year or so, but never thought much of it (another 'popular' book)...but since she loaned it to me, I've been researching a bit and it sounds really interesting. I'll be trying to read that between the end of my April books (hopefully before Friday) and the beginning of my May books (Conrad's Nostromo, O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away, and Water for Elephants for book club).

1 comment:

Robby Virus said...

I'll be interested in hearing what you think of "Death Comes for the Archbishop". I haven't read it, but I recently read Cather's "My Antonia" and loved it...it was very evocative. On the other hand, I read "Song of the Lark" when I was in college and it did nothing for me.