Friday, August 10, 2007

books, books, books

I am really too tired these days to write much, but I'll list out the books I've read so far this summer and some brief comments.

  • Laughter in the Dark (Nabokov) - I've commented on this one earlier. It's Nabokov's last book written in Russian, translated (of course) by N himself. How can you not love a book that begins: "Once upon a time there lived in Berlin, Germany, a man called Albinus. He was rich, respectable, happy; one day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful mistress; he loved; was not loved; and his life ended in disaster."

  • Ethan Frome (Edith Wharton) - kind of nice? I wasn't in the mood for that whole gloomy New England life of misery business.
  • Pale Fire (Nabokov) - N messing with your mind and playing with the English language. A fun book.
  • Hitchhiker's Guide to the End of the Galaxy and Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Douglas Adams) - good, funny, but I would have enjoyed it more a couple of years ago.
  • Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert) - a nice read? For an 19th (?) century middle America version that is more obviously satirical, read Sinclair Lewis's Main Street.
  • Sons and Lovers (D. H. Lawrence) - you may know that I don't like Lawrence because he is a giant womanizer. I decided to give him a second (or maybe third) chance with this book because it's his most read, a staple of Modernist English literature, etc. etc. etc. Yeah, not impressed. The book (a semi-autobiographical work) talks about how all women in protagonist Paul Morel's life are in love with him. There is mother, whose life revolves around her love first Paul's older brother than for Paul himself. Then there is Miriam, based on Jessie something-or-other from Lawrence's real life, who hangs around Paul and hangs on his every word. (Real-life Jessie alleged never spoke to him again after reading his portrayal of her in this book. Good for her.)
  • Missing Mom (Joyce Carol Oates) - nice, but too contemporary for my tastes. :)
  • The Stranger (Camus) - a nice read? If you like that kind of depressing existentialist stuff. (I do.)
  • Confessions (Saint Augustine) - inspired to read this because my friend Liz is getting married in St. Augustine's church, I discovered this is quite a fascinating book. (I'm not very far into it yet.) Especially considering this was written in 400 AD or something like that, Augustine is quite the modern saint. Confessions is addressed to God and goes through Augustine's life. T.S. Eliot and James Joyce were two modern writers Augustine influence. Here is a great passage: "I came to Carthage, where a caldron of unholy loves was seething and bubbling all around me. I was not in love as yet, but I was in love with love; and, from a hidden hunger, I hated myself for not feeling more intensely a sense of hunger. I was looking for something to love, for I was in love with loving, and I hated security and a smooth way, free from snares. Within me I had a dearth of that inner food which is thyself, my God--although that dearth caused me no hunger."


Mike Xie said...

I love L'entranger.

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