Friday, August 03, 2007

All Your Question Answered (This is Not a Typo)

It's been a while since I mentioned anything that I was reading. I know most of you are probably not happy about that. There are only a few burning questions on everyone's mind this summer; one of them is: "What did Lindsey get arrested for this time?" Another is: "Can Nicole Richie's fetus handle four days in jail?" A third is: "Will Hillary's cleavage help or hinder her bid for the presidency?" Perhaps another is: "Whoopi?" But, certainly, the single most important question not involving more important things is: "What's that boy been reading?"

The attempt to read Atlas Shrugged failed. I slogged through 750 pages. I had 450 to go. I just couldn't do it. Honestly, folks, there are some really interesting story lines in this novel, but they are buried under so much didactic preachy crap that it is a crying pain to get through. I mean, for the most part, this book is BAD. Really, really, really BAD. I couldn't take it any more, as intrigued as I was by the main character and the interesting/mysterious plot lines.

I abandoned that, and was so cloudy headed because of the didactic mist in which Rand had enveloped me, that I read nearly an entire collection of Brady Udall's short stories before I realized I had read them in 2003. I then switched to David Mitchell's first novel Ghostwritten. It is very much like his third (great) novel Cloud Atlas, the virtues of which I have related before. The stories that make up the novel are interconnected in clever and clear ways, the settings span the globe (from Ireland to Ulan Bator), and the ultimate theme is never truly clear (at least, I hope, until the novel is complete). I have a pretty slowly developing idea of the theme, but, I am reserving judgement ("a matter of infinite hope," says Nick Carraway).

In the moments when I am not reading Mitchell's book, I am engaged with a biography of Dawn Powell, entitled, appropriately enough, Dawn Powell: A Biography. Powell was a phenomenal writer who enjoyed some success in the middle part of the 20th century, but fell out of favor in the 60s. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Gore Vidal, her work resurfaced in the late 80s, and this biography, by Tim Page, was published in 1998. It's pretty good. Relatively insightful, but a little gushy in places. I've loved Powell since I found one of her books in a book store in Tacoma Park, MD, in the early 90s. I was attracted, as I often am, to the cover art, a blue and yellow filtered photo of a New York street, circa 1950 (and the fact that the book was on the discount rack). The book, The Wicked Pavillion, was a great read, and I have since read two other of her approximately ten available novels.

Along with a ton of short stories for the upcoming school year, I have been reading quite a bit (but I don't really feel like I have).

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

All your base are belong to us.

So many questions, so much burning.

Never read Atlas Shrugged, and probably never will. Way to give it the good effort before giving it the heave-ho.

I realized it's been a long time since I read something that wasn't somehow "productive". It will be good to do that again sometime. Meanwhile, you keep on.

Anon AMVB

ATR said...

Exactly.