Thursday, July 28, 2022

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle


Re-reading another favorite book from my childhood - now that Disney has made a movie of it, we get a new edition -- with photos from the movie production, including Reese Witherspoon as Mrs. Whatsit and Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which. And Zach Galiafinkis as the Happy Medium. And whatshername as Mrs. Who.

Another horror of the modern age. 

Might have to see it, just for the blood-bath of criticism it will stir up in me.

I last read and considered this novel in 2010.

Read a different edition this time, and had just as pleasurable an experience this time as I did 12 years ago. If pleasure is the right word for one of the best, and most unusual, novels about WWII.

In the special introduction to the 1976 Franklin Library edition of the novel, Vonnegut wrote:

The Dresden atrocity, tremendously expensive and meticulously planned, was so meaningless, finally, that only one person on the entire planet got any benefit from it. I am that person. I wrote this book, which earned a lot of money for me and made my reputation, such as it is. One way or another, I got two or three dollars for every person killed. Some business I'm in.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Every Good Boy Does Fine by Jeremy Denk


Look at Me by Anita Brookner

I enjoyed this novel, yet found myself constantly turning back to the copyright page, to reassure myself that I had read it correctly and that the novel was published in 1983. I think it takes place in the 1960s, but indeed it reads like a novel of the thirties or forties. Concerning a watchful, self-torturing, quiet female librarian in London, embarking on her first real friendship and love affair, who is just beginning to take writing seriously and plans a career doing it, it is correct and laced-up in diction, in character, in dialogue. On the surface,there is no hint of anything swinging about London except the occasional "sex shop" the narrator passes in walking around the city. There is no mention of technology beyond the occasional shared telephone.

That said, the book is a withering, compact 200-page study of loneliness, social vs. private character, and the power of the bold and attractive and lively, over the cautious and quiet.

The savageness is not in the setting, but in the seething feelings the narrator reads in the faces and words of those around her.

"I saw the business of writing for what it truly was and is to me. It is your penance for not being lucky. It is an attempt to reach others and to make them love you. It is your instinctive protest, when you find you have no voice at the world's tribunals, and that no one will speak for you. I would give my entire output of words, past, present, and to come, in exchange for easier access to the world, for permission to state 'I hurt' or 'I hate' or 'I want.' Or, indeed, 'Look at me.' And I do not go back on this. For once a thing is known it can never be unknown. It can only be forgotten. And writing is the enemy of forgetfulness, of thoughtlessness. For the writer there is no oblivion. Only endless memory."

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb


Cool plot, excellent music writing about performance, violins, and music culture.

Less enchanted with Slocumb's prose, which is often workaday and one-dimensional, gushing, emphatic, and repetitive.

Friday, July 01, 2022

Late in the Day by Tess Hadley


Didn't love it as much as FREE LOVE. Hadley writes briliiantly about an over-privileged, self-conscious, whiny demographic - it gets to me, over time. Still, gorgeous prose. 

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