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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Death of a Reading List...

It isn't time to give up yet. That's not what I am referring to at all. But the truth is that I must resign to the fact that I have only read 10 books this year, as opposed to previous years when I averaged 30 by mid-May. "The Emperor's Children," a book I took to China with me thinking I was going to be finished with it by the time I got there after the 18 hour flight, is still very much in my hand, perhaps for the rest of the month. Because of the lack of time I continue to only take "baby steps" from chapter to chapter of Messud's divine masterpiece. My goal this year was to read classics, and while I am still sticking to some of the titles, I am revising the list some time this coming weekend to represent titles I intend to substitute. I can't count the number of people who have told me--at one time or another--that reading is not about lists or the number of books you can read in one year, but I beg to differ. If you look at my past years' reading lists (HERE), you'll be able to tell how far behind I am this year. Regardless, I am still reading some "chunklers," such as "The Pickwick Papers," and "Foucault's Pendulum."

"The Emperor's Children" has been a marvel to read. Finally, in the middle chapters, the tension between Murray Thwaite and Danielle reaches the climax Messud intended all along. While it is difficult to imagine the elder "intellectual" Thwaite in bed with Danielle, Messud uses a mixture of descriptive and metaphorical language that makes it passable. Danielle is indeed one of those young women highly impressed with any signs of a "big brain" or intellectual capacity. I knew some women like that in college (none of whom dated me, of course)--they enjoyed conversation more than looks and as a result gravitated towards the intellectual types. Murray's daughter (Marina) doesn't realize what's going on, and despite being Danielle's best friend, she cannot decipher the bed of lies her friend and her father occupy. Marina, of course, has taken a turn for the best, finally finishing her long over-due book, and starting a "romance" that seemingly will culminate in marriage to an Australian named Ludovic Seeley. The complications extend to the other characters, Julius (the token gay friend) and "Bootie" Tubb, Marina's cousin who has moved to New York to "make" it as a writer. More to follow.

Today in class we screened the film "Finding Forrester." I plan on showing this film in class prior to any big writing assignment (but only once a semester). My students were happy for the break, knowing little that a great writing lesson was upon them. If you listen closely, I pointed out to them, you'll take away a great deal of excellent writing advice. That is the rationale behind showing the film. At any rate, there's a scene where Sean Connery tells the protagonist, Jamal Wallace (played by Rob Brown): "Write a 5,000 word essay on why you should stay the f*** out of my place!" My students immediately pointed out that it is impossible to do so overnight. To which, of course, I offered to do... so now I have a 5,000 word assignment on why I should stay the f*** out of Mr. William Forrester's (fictional seclusive writer) place of residence. I may post it here so you can laugh at the amazing non-sequitorial nonsense I write.

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1 Comments:

At 12:20 PM, Blogger Suzan Abrams said...

Thanks very much for having stopped by JCR and sorry I wasn't able to come along earlier.
Yes, sometimes it happens that we get stuck with a book we never intended to. But the fact that you're reading and reading passionately and voraciously...enough to inspire someone like me. Thoughts change, philosophies evolve, isn't it all a wonderful thing.
I do find book lists thrilling these days as they introduce us to so many different exciting writings especially with the advent of longlists for awards and such.

regards

 

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