Monday, August 31, 2009

Introducing Baby Brendan

Booking Through Thursday

Ok, so I've had other things to do, obviously, but I want to keep this blog ongoing...I know when bloggers I follow who post regularly disappear for periods of time, I worry - are they ok? But, I will write what I can when I can. Booking Through Thursday is an easy way to update here, even if I'm not really reading much right now.

Anyway, on to the question:

What’s the lightest, most “fluff” kind of book you’ve read recently?

Well, I haven't finished it, and it's not "fluff" in the way that most people mean fluff. I've been reading Joshua Ferris's And Then We Came to the End for a while now...not really getting very far in it, but picking it up every now and then, reading a dozen or so pages and then putting it down for a few weeks. I really like it...perhaps the Office Space for readers. Having worked in a cubicle land for a year, I can definately relate. So far, the scene when the one character takes a co-worker's (who has been let go) shelves and ends up having to give them back, along with a chair he had traded someone for - that stuff happens. During my time in cubicleland, I wanted a different chair. And you couldn't just go to another department with an empty desk with the good chair and trade. No - each department had gotten their own slot of types of chairs, and I was out of luck. Fortunately, eventually someone in my own department retired, and I took her chair, but there was still a "I don't know if we're allowed to do this..." stink. We also weren't allowed to have our own coffee maker. We had our own small refridgerator & microwave, but even that was kind of rogue - if we (as a department) ever moved to a different part of the building, we would have to get rid of it because it was a type of contraband. Ridiculous. But this is the closest I can get to fluff.
But yeah, it's good...maybe I'll finish it by the end of the year!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The End of Henry James...For Now

Sometimes I have wondered if the Modern Library's list was made to torture me, as if it was designed specifically for my book-related OCD. After all, I committed to it before I had waded through the waters of James Joyce...before I realized some of the innocuous titles on there really weren't one book, but were multiple (it actually isn't a list of 100's a list of 116), and when all I had read of Henry James was a short, decently enjoyable ghost story called "The Turn of the Screw," which, believe it or not, made sense. Yes, this list was designed just to trick laugh as I worked my way through Portrait of the Artist, only to realize that I still had Ulysses and Finnegans Wake left. And then, the horribly cruel joke of Henry James. It's not that I expect The Ambassadors to be a short ghost story as well, but I didn't expect to find what I did...or what I didn't find (as in, I didn't find a novel that was at all comprehensible). AND THEY MAKE ME READ 3 BY THIS CHARLATAN!

Haha, but NO MORE! I have finally finished The Golden Bowl, the last of the three on the list.

A summary of The Golden Bowl: Maggie and Amerigo are going to get married (because Maggie has money and Amerigo wants some). Amerigo and Charlotte used to be lovers, but Maggie doesn't know that. Amerigo and Charlotte go shopping together before the marriage, and they look at a golden bowl in a shop, but Amerigo notices a flaw in it, so they don't buy it. Maggie & Amerigo get married. Maggie wants her dad to get married, and the most obvious candidate is Charlotte. Adam (Maggie's dad) marries Charlotte. Charlotte & Amerigo rekindle their relationship. Yes: Amerigo is sleeping with his step-mother-in-law. Maggie begins to suspect something's up between her husband and her step-mother. On day, she goes shopping and finds a golden bowl in a shop, which she buys. A few days later, the shop keeper comes to visit her: he felt bad he charged her so much money for the bowl, because there's a flaw in it. While there, he sees photos of Amerigo and Charlotte, and tells him about their coming to the shop a few years ago and about their conversation. Maggie & Amerigo have a "confrontation" (I put that in quotations, because it wasn't at all interesting or exciting). Maggie schemes to get her dad to return to America with Charlotte without either of them finding out that she knew what was up between Charlotte & her husband. It works, they return to America, and suddenly Amerigo is happy with Maggie.

This is, at least, what I THINK happened. I can never quite see through the fog of James's prose and I could not find a chapter-by-chapter analysis of this book, which was the only thing that made The Ambassadors and Wings of the Dove half-comprehensible. The Golden Bowl wasn't as bad as The Ambassadors, but that is not a compliment.

James (once described by Thomas Hardy as the Polonius of English Prose) went through three phases of his career: James the First, James the Second, and the Old Pretender; the latter phase encompassing only three novels: The Ambassadors, The Wings of the Dove, and The Golden Bowl. I titled this post "The End of Henry James For Now" because I'm sure as I work my way through other lists, I will be forced to confront this foe again, but it will be in Daisy Miller, or Portrait of a Lady. I am not expecting to enjoy them, but I have at least slain the evil dragon that was the Old Pretender. I have beaten the Modern Library at its game...I have beaten Henry James!

On a side note, I'm due in a week with my first baby, and I felt like he couldn't make his debut until I finished this damn book (which I've been reading since March). Now that I have, he can come any day!