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Did I Build This Ship to Wreck Wednesday

What I've Finished Reading

The Victim reached a point after which I physically couldn't put it down, or at least had so little inclination to that it made no difference. I read it while chopping onions and mushrooms, and I read the last two chapters standing up at the sink after brushing my teeth, having made a resolution to go to bed that I could not fulfill until I had finished the book in my hand. Is it as good as that makes it sound? I think so. If I'd read it when I was much younger, I think I would have been disappointed that [Not much of a spoiler for The Victim!]Leventhal and Allbee don't kill each other in a fiery blaze, or something equally hopeless and dramatic, but I am not young anymore and I was grateful for the slackening of tension at the end. I'm happy to see there's another book by Saul Bellow on the 99 Novels.

What I'm Reading Now

The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene. I think Graham Greene is going to be one of those authors I can admire but don't "feel," whatever exactly that means. There are some great things here. I love the Portuguese ship captain who offers joke cigars to the English officials who have to search his ship for contraband, and who addresses his daughter as "little money spider."

Scope's relationship with his wife is making me petulant. I don't completely understand what he finds so tiresome about her and I wish I knew why they can't just separate so she can go live without him in a country she hates a little less, or why he can't say "I don't know" when she prods him to pretend he still loves her. I mean, sure, she'll make a scene, but if he's going to make such a fuss in his own head about owing her something, why can't it be honesty? I know it's supposed to be all emotionally complex or whatever, and I am being a bad reader by letting his self-serving and self-sabotaging pity annoy me instead of nodding solemnly and feeling as if I've learned something about The Human Condition, but . . . I don't know. Clemence Dane gets a mention! It's moving a lot faster than The Power and the Glory, the last book I read by Greene.

Also contains: Catholicism. It's been sort of seeping in around the edges and may end up flooding the place.

For this Victorian Lit class I'm tutoring a guy in: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. A little while ago, I had the strange experience of re-reading a book I thought was hilarious when I was nine (The War With Mr. Wizzle by Gordon Korman). There were so many turns of phrase that I clearly remembered making me laugh my head off, but which I was reading now in total silence -- seeing the joke as if through glass in a joke museum. Alice is different: everything that was funny then is still funny now, maybe even more so because I'm a less sloppy reader than I used to be. Alice, how many times do the mice have to tell you they don't like your cat stories? The guy I'm tutoring doesn't like it as much as the previous readings, though; he's "not really into the dream logic thing." Well, we can't all be into the dream logic thing.

What I Plan to Read Next

Coming up in 99 Novels: Ape and Essence by A. Huxley and No Highway by Nevil Shute. Huxley's After Many A Summer Dies the Swan was one of the least thrilling of all my 99 Novels experiences, but about Nevil Shute I have no preconceptions.

I thought I brought The Man in the High Castle home from the library, but now I can't find it anywhere. :| The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for tutoring. And Selected Poems and Letters of John Keats is next on my shelf of neglected books! or should I save that one for murder monday?


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 16th, 2016 01:37 pm (UTC)
I only ever liked Travels With my Aunt when it comes to Graham Greene.
Mar. 16th, 2016 06:18 pm (UTC)
I don't know anything about that one! I know he wrote The Third Man, which is a movie I loved when I was in college, and possibly some Raffles fanfiction? I could be moved to read those things, but maybe it won't be for a while.
Mar. 25th, 2016 08:32 pm (UTC)
I haven't read The Third Man. :) But travels With My Aunt is fun. Henry is boring, convetional and middle aged and meets his aunt Augusta for the first time on his mother's funeral. Who promptly tell shim his mother wasn't his mother and that is only the first surprise this far from conventional and boring old lady delivers. one of the things i apreciated was that Aunt Augusta, despite being in her seventies, has her own sexual agenda and an enormous capacity for fun.
Mar. 26th, 2016 12:28 am (UTC)
Oh, that does sound like fun! I'll give it a try someday if I don't forget.
Mar. 16th, 2016 03:37 pm (UTC)
I know how I can admire but don't "feel," feels and then worry if something I really enjoyed is any good or not because I enjoyed it. Great works aren't meant to be fun are they?

I don't think it's wrong if you aren't impressed by a character. Who's to say the writer's right?

Good luck with the missing book!
Mar. 16th, 2016 07:16 pm (UTC)
Hah, right? I am constantly second-guessing and just flat-out refusing to trust my judgment, which is why I "react" to books instead of reviewing. If I enjoy something too much, or can't enjoy it, or have caveats, or think I should have caveats but don't, or hate it or have no reaction at all, I am convinced that it's because I'm "missing something" and/or have terrible taste in everything.

I don't think Greene wants me to be impressed by Scobie -- if I had to guess, I'd think he probably wants me to feel about the way I do, maybe with a little more sympathy and religious angst and engagement. I wouldn't say that it's unsuccessful so far -- just that I don't care particularly. And there's time yet -- sometimes books take forever to build.

I found The Man in the High Castle! Then I completely forgot to take it to work with me so I could read it. Oh, well!
Mar. 17th, 2016 03:22 pm (UTC)
And it's worse if everyone else is eloquently raving/complaining about it! Think I'll look at wallpaper instead...

There's always tomorrow. Better than a lost fine!
Mar. 17th, 2016 11:18 am (UTC)
I've read No Highway! I haven't read anything else on the 99 Novels list (admittedly, I think a teacher read us The Old Man and the Sea, but I was 11 and don't remember it at all) so I'm surprised it actually includes something I have read.
Mar. 17th, 2016 05:30 pm (UTC)
I don't actually know anymore whether I read The Old Man and the Sea in elementary/middle school, or if I just read a lot of fiction in which people complained about having to read The Old Man and the Sea.

Did you enjoy No Highway? (Maybe I shouldn't ask, & keep myself preconception free).
Mar. 20th, 2016 01:24 pm (UTC)
I think (hope!) it's safe to say that, yes, I liked No Highway.

I gather you haven't read anything else by Shute?
Mar. 21st, 2016 12:56 am (UTC)
Not a thing! I look forward to it.
Mar. 17th, 2016 06:40 pm (UTC)
OMG, that book sounds AWFUL.

But Alice...how can one not like Alice?!?!
Mar. 21st, 2016 12:59 am (UTC)
Not awful, I think, just not calculated to resonate beautifully with my particular heartstrings. I spend a lot of time admiring the sentence structure from afar.

alice has many virtues but if you hate dream logic in your books, it's bound to be rough going
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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