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Thursday, October 11, 2007

How "Vineland" Came to an End...

... and what a melancholic mood I managed myself to get into because of my recent reading pace! It literally took me nearly a month to finish the book. Just like Nabokov's "Glory" before it, Pynchon's "Vineland" was a never-ending series of false starts. I don't blame the book. "Vineland" is quintessentially Pynchon at his best: surreal to extremes, leading into the dark side with a smile on his face, etc. That's his natural way of weaving a story. There are, I suspect, some influences from "Magic Realism" here and on his other works. It is difficult to pin-point, but the last part of the book reveals characters named in that Pynchonesque absurd way that makes us stop for just a fraction of a second and try to see the symbolism behind the name. Again, that is what he is good at--perfectly good at--and after reading "The Crying of Lot 49" and "Slow Learner," I realize I had no one else to blame but myself for any short comings on the reading.
So, I have decided to cheat the system the last couple of days in order to catch up with my reading. I have proctored no exams this past week, even though there's a pile a mile high on my desk, and I have done the bare minimum of preparation (most was done over the summer anyways). The thing I did, have done and will continue to do is read, strongly into the weekend. Presently, I am reading from my reading list for 2007, trying until the very last day to complete it. I still have some volumes but now that I am over the hump with "Vineland" I think I can complete it. I am reading Maureen Corrigan's "Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading!" You might recognize the name because she is the book reviewer for "Fresh Air" on National Public Radio. I recognize the name because she is an English professor at my alma mater, and even though I never took a class with her she was always pleasant to me. Her door leading into the main hall of the English Department was always lined with books sent by publishers, most of which were not going to be read and she would place them there for students to have them. I have still several of those books in my collection. She is a lovely reader. The books is a magnificent piece of evidence that those of us who (as she says, "rather spend time with a book than with a loved one) read voraciously lead a life of intense pleasure and quizzical madness. I am actually taking notes from her book to add to my reading list for next year: "The Classics of the Western Canon" reading list for 2008. She is knowledgeable not because she is a highly regarded critic, but rather because she is the epitome of what readers should be. I love the way she writes and the connections she makes. If you are like me (I tend to buy books about people who read a lot in order to justify my own "madness"), then you need to read this book as soon as possible. What a gem!

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