"The book I'm looking for,' says the blurred figure, who holds out a volume similar to yours, 'is the one that gives the sense of the world after the end of the world, the sense that the world is the end of everything that there is in the world, that the only thing there is in the world is the end of the world."
- Italo Calvino, If on a winter's night a traveler

Friday, August 12, 2011

Faulkner, etc

I haven't posted in a while. I've been going through a bit of a funk, book-wise. I've been writing a lot recently (In fact I sold two pieces of fiction! My first ever!), and I weirdly have trouble reading when I write. Ugh. Sorry. I hate to be that guy. “Oh, my novel that I'm working on blah blah” -That Guy/Me.

Anyway, I've read a few things. But I've ALSO been watching some good shows! Are you watching Breaking Bad? Why nottttt?

A Light in August by William Faulkner

I ended my last post by expressing admiration for the quality of characterization in top-notch modern lit and asked a question: have writers been getting better at this, or am I just getting older? Basically, I wanted to know if I went back to the Classics whether they would be as poignant as some of the more modern lit has been for me recently.

So my answer is: Sort of?

This was a good book. I liked it a lot ("Phew!" - William Faulkner), and it's obviously pretty far ahead of its time, structurally speaking. Three plots sort of interweave throughout the book in a way that feels very modern and very smart. But I didn't love the quasi-stream-of-consciousness style. And, maybe for that reason, I thought the book was a little too.. loose? Is that a thing? I don't mean that it's sloppy, or that it's narrative wanders (that's OK in a novel). Just, something on the level of the sentence and the paragraph wasn't... tight? I don't know.

Anyway, there were some real solid moments. And the characters were for sure compelling. Hooray, Faulkner! You're not famous for nothing! Hooray Classics! You're still worth reading!

Ballistics by Billy Collins

I once asked a guy who is in a position to have a real opinion about poetry and poets what he thought of Billy Collins. I was probably even holding up a copy of this book. “He's OK,” the guy said, and then he sort of shrugged. “Kind of a one trick pony.” I get that. But I still really like this trick, and I'm not yet sick of this pony. What if your pony could do this trick? That's a good trick! Your pony probably OK to just coast on that trick for a while. Anyway, Billy Collins is great is what I'm saying.

Cards on the Table by Agatha Chrisite

I don't remember this one too well. The plot revolved around a murder that was solved by... knowing what characters' bridge playing strategies said about their personality? I mean, that sounds pretty cool, but I literally know nothing about bridge. So, for the whole book, Hercule Poirot was all “Ah, but in the third rubber of the second match a grand slam occurred! Only a bold person would have doubled down in such a situation.” And I was like, “Sure. OK.”

Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why by Bart Ehrman

I know my Bible pretty well. No jokez. Ask me something about it! And I love Old Testament criticism and history. I mean just LUV it. Totally inexplicably. I picked up this book thinking I would brush up on my New Testament textual criticism. Oh, man. I forgot how boring early church history is. “Javius points out that in the Alexandrian texts, which are generally considered to be based on older versions, except in cases where....” Yuck. Wow. It's... Look, I'm sure this book is fine. But I do not care. Just not my cuppa!

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