Thursday, November 26, 2009

Booking Through Thursday

It’s Thanksgiving in the U.S.A. today, so I know at least some of you are going to be as busy with turkey and family as I will be, so this week’s question is a simple one: What books and authors are you particularly thankful for this year?

  • I'm thankful for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Atonement for making me cry
  • I'm thankful for finishing all the Henry James novels on the Modern Library list.
  • I'm thankful for discovering EL Doctorow and Iris Murdoch
  • I'm VERY thankful for A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • I'm thankful for being able to finally finish A Dance to the Music of Time after a year and a half of reading it.
  • And most strangely, I'm thankful for Anthony Powell. I miss Nick and Isobel and the rest of the clan already! They will be part of my consciousness for the rest of my life.


Jon said...

I'm thankful for Roddy Doyle and every word he wrote...

that man makes me laugh to no end!


Kristin said...

I never read anything by him - I will have to check him out. Any suggestions on where to start?

Frank Lekens said...

You're thankful for finishing all those James novels... but have you learned to love him yet, or are you just thankful you've got it over with?

Kristin said...

I'm thankful it's over with!

Frank Lekens said...

That's a pity (but lucky for you :-)

I don't know what it is, but I seem to feel some weird desperate urge to get you converted and get you to a point where you'll write a blog entry called 'how I learnt to stop worrying and love Harry James'. With dubious tenacity, even though I rather dislike Nabokov.

Might be an impossible task. Maybe he's just not to your taste. Still, I gather the Random House list primarily featured the last three big novels, and brilliant though they are in their way, I wouldn't say they're the best and easiest way into James.

Better, for that, to start with some earlier works, and preferrably in their first edition texts (not the revised text that's often used in modern reprints, where the earlier works are to some extent infused with some of the late style mannerisms).

If you're at all willing to consider taking him up again at some point in the future, I suggest you start with Washington Square (and maybe later view the two film versions of that, The Heiresss and Washington Square, both of which are quite good in their own right).

And also some shorter works. Apart from the ubiquitous Daisy Miller, I'd suggest stories like Four Meetings or The Marriages.
Very interesting (and I think generally well liked also by not so ardent James fans as myself) are lighter works on 'the international theme' like The Europeans and 'An International Episode', which contains rather funny caricatures of British upper class twi... eh... obtuseness.

And maybe try something like The Lesson of the Master, in conjunction with Philip Roth's The Ghost Writer. If you like Roth at all.

Otherwise good luck with your other reading & with the blog. You've made me curious about the Magnificent Ambersons and Dos Passos.

Kristin said...

About six years ago I read Turn of the Screw, and while it wasn't the best book I ever read, it was decent. It's Henry's Old Pretender phase that gets my goat, especially when people rave about The Ambassadors.