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I couldn't wait to start reading "Pearl" by Mary Gorden when it came out and even now I have only read the first part (I ended up leaving it in CT by mistake)  but, wow.  I highly recommend, as does John Leonard in the NYTimes. Clickety

 

" I must dance around what happens next, while insisting that you read the book or go to hell."- John Leonard

I can't wait to read that. I absolutely adored Spending.

Spending was unbelievably engrossing especially for me, a woman painter, as you can imagine having read the book.

 

This is much more dense, complex and, oh my, religious (!!!! not my cup of tea) but I just love this woman, Mary Gordon, and every word that emanates from her hand.

 

You should read Shadow Man(non-fiction) if you haven't already done so, before Pearl IMHO.

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Just finished Ask the Dust by John Fante, a slim novel which didn't live up to the extravagant praise I've heard from Bukowski fans. Henry Miller and Hubert Selby did this kind of thing much better.

I'm currently reading Middlesex, has anyone else read it? I remember it being discussed elsewhere and people were criticizing the fact that it won the pulitzer prize. Maybe not Pulitzer Prize worthy

Several of the pieces in Paris to the Moon appeared earlier as Gopnik's monthly Letters from Paris to The New Yorker. His use of adjectives to describe the weather, the neighborhood, etc impressed me

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The Two Towers, JRR Tolkien.

There's a movie.

I know. I sometimes refer to it when I need help picturing the landscapes. :lol:

Please do not use the movie if you are trying to visualize the Ents. Very disappointing.

 

Topic-wise, I've finally gotten around to Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, which has been on my list for several years. Engaging and clear in its expository style, it also appears to be quite well-researched, though there are no notes (at least in the paperback edition I have), and I would have appreciated some specific references in addition to those included in the body of the text. (There is, however, an extensive "Further Readings" section at the end, which partially compensates.) One thing I really like is his devoting an entire part of the book (one of four parts) to "The Rise and Spread of Food Production", and its important role in the history of cultures/societies and their interaction with one another. Those with an interest in the history of food will find this account (essentially an overview, but a very succinct and well-thought-out one) worthwhile.

 

Commute reading at the moment is The Best American Travel Writing 2004. I'm a sucker for these "Best" anthologies: they're perfect 'snippet reading' for the MUNI ride downtown and back. Favorite so far has been Rian Malan's "The Wrong Side of the Cape", in which he relates how he convinced his dissatisfied wife to move from Johannesburg, South Africa to an unpopular suburb of Cape Town, and in the telling evokes the evolution through apartheid and beyond of that country's self-image.

 

Cheers,

 

Squeat

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just started Tuesdays with Morrie. I didn't realize quite how poignant it was and that perhaps the subway wasn't the best place to start it, as I came very close to crying 3 times before page 17. :lol:

On a related note have you ever seen Mitch Albom's ears? I think he is a Vulcan. Seriously.

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I've read one work by Mary Gordon, but the name of it escapes me. I never forgave her for the self-indulgent NYT mag article about her mother when she was dying form Alzheimer's disease (I believe it was). The article was accompanied by some very unflattering photos of her mother in obviously distressed states and I don't believe (or at least there was no indication to the contrary) that the mother had given her informed consent to be photographed in this way and then plastered all over the magazine. Anyway, the focus of the article was on Gordon and her suffering at the expense of her mother's. I thought it was vile.

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I've read one work by Mary Gordon, but the name of it escapes me.  I never forgave her for the self-indulgent NYT mag article about her mother when she was dying form Alzheimer's disease (I believe it was).  The article was accompanied by some very unflattering photos of her mother in obviously distressed states and I don't believe (or at least there was no indication to the contrary) that the mother had given her informed consent to be photographed in this way and then plastered all over the magazine.  Anyway, the focus of the article was on Gordon and her suffering at the expense of her mother's. I thought it was vile.

I had the same reaction. I find Gordon's writing, even her fiction, to all be incredibly self-absorbed. She reminds me of Kathryn Harrison, another egomaniacal writer.

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Of Gordon's books, I've only read Spending, which was purchased as mindless beach reading, and enjoyed as such. I appreciated that something so entertaining also made me think about art in ways that I hadn't in some time.

 

As an aside, I bought this upon the recommendation of the shopkeeper at an independent bookstore in my neighborhood. I had exactly five minutes to purchase two weeks' worth of travel reading before rushing home to catch a car to the airport. Among other things, I wanted something trashy for the beach. The helpful shopkeeper suggested Spending, promising it was "the best trash in the store". You know you're not in Kansas when Mary Gordon takes that prize. :lol:

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Romola, by George Eliot. Not too convinced yet. Middlemarch is one of my very favorite books, but I'm not convinced C15th Florence suits her so well.

 

The Culture Industry, a collection of essays by Theodor Adorno.

 

I have quite a lot of time for Adorno, but I think I prefer what Lukacs says about him in the preface to 'Theory of the Novel' - something like 'he sits in the Grand Hotel Abyss, where the coming apocalypse is only made the sweeter by the exqusite works paraded for his delictation'. I love the image. german intellectuals preaching doom while living only in the culture they dissect. Sorry, taken too many seminars on this topic....

 

Edit: now I have the quote - 'a beautiful hotel on the edge of nothingness, of absurdity. And the daily contemplation of the abyss, between excellent meals or artistic entertainments, can only heighten the enjoyment of the subtle comforts offered'.

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After total immersion in Amy Kelly, I am re-reading a book of my own," Ermengard of Narbonne, and the World of the Troubadours," by Fredric L. Cheyette. I am so astounded by how much these women were capable of achieving, in a brazenly masculine era. Eleanor was the consumate diplomat, even in the face of years of internment. Ermengard, her contempory, was at one time a regular at the Poiteau court--the very place that replaced the Alexandrian ideal with the Arthurian ideal--thanks to Eleanor's daughter by Louis VII, Marie of Champagne. These two books read together have really enlightened a lot of 'black holes' with respect to the ways of the days back then.

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