The Kaleidoscopic Book Bag

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On top of the Stack--

Bad Faith Aimée and David Thurlo (The first in what promises to be a series of Religious detective stories featuring Sister Agatha.)

Vile Bodies Evelyn Waugh--I'm sure it's no new discovery to note that one should be extremely cautious in the quantity of Waugh one consumes at any one time. Cynicism and bitterness tend to be contagious.

Murther and Walking Spirits Robertson Davies. Dipped into, but never really started, this seemed quite an intriguing read for around Hallowe'en.

The (Mis)Behavior of Markets Benoit Mandelbrot and Richard L. Hudson.

Background reading continues to be the remarkable translation of Anna Karenina

I've been debating reading The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell. Highly rated and well-considered as a work of twentieth century literature, its subject matter is such that it makes me wonder whether it is worthy of my attention. For example, I find the subject matter of Lolita so repugnant to my sensibilities that I have been hard-pressed to read any Nabakov at all. Yes, I know, a rather provincial prejudice, but it seems that some works come pre-tainted--that is regardless of how well constructed or beautifully written, one must wonder whether there can be any merit to them at all. I'll glance at a few more studies of Durrell and read a few more pages (I really do love the style) before deciding. Unfortunately Durrell, unlike Henry Miller, has real talent with words. Henry Miller I attempted to read in my youth because he was so "controversial" and "erotic." Fortunately, I was so turned off by the dreariness of the lives encountered in whichever of the Tropics books I happened to pick up, and by the relentlessly blocky, unstyled prose that I never fell prey to their temptations. Oh well, the dangers of reading. . .

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I read the first book of the Alexandria Quartet many years ago. I can't remember anything about it, not even its title (I'll guess Justine, and Google tells me I guessed correctly).

Wait... I do have a vague sense of people walking into rooms and being described by the narrator.

My advice: Estimate the time you think you'd spend reading Lawrence Durrell, spend that amount of time with your son exploring the outdoors, and you'll never regret it.

Miller wrote mostly crap, but he had some real moments of brilliance, even in the Tropics books (whether or not ther is enough good to justify wading through them, I don't know). The Collosus of Maroussi has a pretty good brilliance to crap ratio. Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch is very good, as is the section from it that was published as a separate work, A Devil in Paradise.


I tried Maroussi with the bookgroup. I was bored to death--the usual stuff about Miller and his complete self-involvement--very little, it seemed about anything else. As his personality is repugnant to me, it seems, miasmatically to contaminate everything it touches. However, The Oranges sounds like it might be worth a try.



Well, I never said that Maroussi is all gems. There is a little bit (two pages or so) where he talks about the jazz spirit of America, and that, to me is worth wading through the "I'm me, hear me rant" stuff. Of course, these two pages are a big rant, but they are particularly well-written.

Oranges is definitely a better book.

For the pure love of Big Sur and environs, Robinson Jeffers is also a great read.

Dear Erik,

I either never got there or have insufficient interest in the subject matter for it to have piqued my attention. But thanks for the recommendations.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 15, 2004 7:11 AM.

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