Reading Blues

| | Comments (3)

I'm having one of those episodes today that comes from reading through something much too fast and not preparing myself for the vacuum that will left when the book is put down. Devoured The Rule of Four (although I do have to agree with Steve and Banshee's assessment of it overall) and then, wham! I hit the wall. Spent the better part of yesterday evening flitting from book to book to book, looking in vain for somewhere to settle.

I started with Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping, which has made many lists as one of the best novels in the last several years. I went to Judith Merkle Riley's The Master of all Desires (this was one of three I picked up because I had seen one in a bookstore that I thought looked really interesting, but I wanted to check it out before I bought it. It was the story of a Medieval woman who receives the gift of healing and I couldn't quite detect whether or not it was carrying a big anti-RC chip on its shoulder. If so, I wasn't remotely interested. And the library, darn them, didn't have A Vision of Light in.) Put that back in the book bag and pulled out three other library possibilities. Shuffled them around for a while and then picked up Toni Morrison's Beloved, which given all its acclaim, I promised myself I would try to read again. Read about four pages and decided that it was WAAAAAAAAAAY too depressing to start in an evening or even to deal with in the spring. Picked up Madeleine St. John's The Essence of the Thing again (started it a while back). Thought about Torgny Lindgren's Light, but Swedish weirdness just wasn't in the cards.(This consideration was spawned by a reminder in a list found at Claw of the Conciliator and my own recollections of Lindgren's work.) Went to the new James Rollins Map of Bones but wasn't prepared to deal with another Da Vinci Code should it turn out to be so (although given Rollins's past work, it seems unlikely.) Picked up Randy Wayne White's Tampa Burn and decided that it was too heavy for the season as well. Thought about Throne of Jade so I could read Black Powder War, but wasn't in that space either. Definitely could not touch what I must finish soon Descent into Hell--too ponderous for words. Basically was looking for light, entertaining fluff.

Afraid I didn't find it. So for lunch break today, I have an array of four books: Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping, Madeleine St. John's The Essence of the Thing, Naomi Novik's Throne of Jade and Charles Williams's Descent into Hell. Whatever I read will probably take a week or so and thus give me time to let my mood gel and make a reasonable list for what comes next. Unfortunately, I feel a hankering for Preston and Cloud's Dance of Death, I know that like Brimstone and Book of the Dead, I'm only likely to be disappointed. But perhaps I'll get a Utopia, The Codex, or Tyrannosaur Canyon out of the deal. Always hard to tell with those two.

Anyway, wish me luck and send me your suggestions. I know I need to look up Q.

Bookmark and Share


Descent into Hell is Williams' best and most deeply striking novel. All of them have some false notes and exaggerated stuff, but Hell has the fewest. I think it better--less flaccid--than All Hallows' Eve which is also fine and was the favorite Williams novel of Metropolitan Anthony Bloom.

I'd be interested in what you thought of the novels of the Irish, not the Canadian, Austin Clarke, if you can put your hands on any.

I'd also be interested in knowing what you thought of the Black Prince, by Iris Murdoch--marvellous even for non Murdoch fans.

Paradise Reclaimed by Halldor Laxness is a VERY funny, quirky read about an Icelander who becomes a Mormon and moves to Utah.

Another funny, though less highbrow book, is Run With the Horsemen by Ferrol Sams, about a Georgia boy growing up. If you want a book that will make you laugh--a palate cleanser from more serious stuff--this will do it. It's written well, in the way that refined Southerners write well even when they are not intellectuals or literateurs.

Dear Jeff,

Thank you very much. I shall be looking up some of these. I've already read All Hallow's Eve and enjoyed it very, very much. I'm just having a mood problem with Descent into Hell. That happens.

The last two books you mention are of particular interest and I'll have to see if I can get them from our rather meagrely stocked public library. If so, I'll have them both, but particularly the Icelandic one soonest.

Iris Murdoch I've only tried a couple of times and never really got the point. But that may have been a mood-thing as well and I'll look into Black Prince. Thanks so much for the suggestions.



Dear Jeff,

Stopped by the library site and found Black Prince, two others by Halidor Laxness, so I thought I'd look at them, and half a dozen by Ferrol Sams (including the one you mentioned) so I thought I'd look at all of them.

Thanks again.





About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on June 7, 2006 10:05 AM.

The Rule of Four was the previous entry in this blog.

The Carmelite Ideal of Marian Devotion is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll