The pile of books I’ve read but not written about is growing. I guess it’s a good sign that, however busy I am, I’m still getting some things read that aren’t strictly for work. But right now it feels like, between teaching and administrative responsibilities (which are heating up, inevitably, as the term moves along) , writing a book review, doing the usual round of editing for Open Letters, and resisting the temptation to get drawn into long debates with commenters on my Gone with the Wind essay (it turns out the down side to getting attention is getting negative attention!), I won’t do any long book posts for a while. But I had an idea: if Bookphilia can do 10 word reviews, surely, so can I–or as close to 10 as is reasonable to expect from a Victorianist!
Anita Brookner, A Start in Life. So depressing it made me want to draw the curtains, turn out the lights, and drink. Or go to Paris–which would probably cheer me up.
Leila Aboulela, The Translator. In the end, it didn’t seem a lot more to me than a love story, and not a very believable one at that. Evocative prose, though.
Robert B. Parker, Pale Kings and Princes. Spenser, Hawk, and lots of Susan–all’s well with the world, or at least it is when this invincible team is done its work.
Elif Batuman, The Possessed. This one I’d quite like to write about at more length. Maybe on the weekend. I had no such adventures as a graduate student, that’s for sure! She went to Uzbekistan, I went to, um, Buffalo. I’ve been out of graduate school longer than she has, also, and I’m still not able to find my experiences there funny. I consider myself still in recovery! If I ever write the story of those days, there’s a ‘townie’ bar that will represent a sanctuary from a world in which I had to keep my head up while someone told me (in front of others) that I was “intellectually calcified,” and another told me (in writing) that because I wanted to argue about concepts of literary merit (I was for them), I needed to prove I wasn’t D’nesh D’Souza. Did I mention I’m still in recovery?
If you’re looking for more substantial blog posts, I recommend Adam Roberts’s review of Room at Punkadiddle (and also see this helpful roundup at The Second Pass). Stefanie at So Many Books makes Rosy Thornton’s The Tapestry of Love sound very appealing (I recently read and enjoyed Hearts and Minds), and Craig Monk weighs in on Freedom at The Classroom Conservative. Stevereads turns to Rosemary Sutcliff, then has a bad day with comics, and at LikeFire Daniel Nocivelli writes about what sounds like a wonderful story in the New Yorker: “a magnificent look, through the eyes of a book, at the many and varied transformations occurring across a half-century of one woman’s life, from her junior year abroad to her deathbed.” Enjoy! And more substance from me soon.