Sunday, October 17, 2010

For Pleasure: Fall 2010
First, to finish summer...I finished Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day (which means among other insane things that I read two novels this summer of more than 1000 pages each.) I not only admired this book but it inspired more feeling than I associate with past forays into Pynchon. So I dipped into some of the older books, as well as a fairly detailed exegesis of his work up to and including Gravity's Rainbow (Joseph W. Slade's book on Pynchon, published in the Warner Paperback Series on Writers for the 70s, which I must have picked up at some used bookstore somewhere), which in turn led me to look again at his sort of autobiographical introduction to Slow Learner, his volume of early stories. A few interesting keys there, including to his taste in detective fiction.

Which takes me into fall, which is busy with work and new fall releases. Two books I will --but have yet to-- review have led me to books I'm now reading for pleasure. Robert D. Richardson's First We Read, Then We Write (U. of Iowa Press) led me to his big biography of Emerson, The Mind on Fire, from which it is derived. The biography is currently my main bedtime reading.

Daisy Hay's Young Romantics (FSG) piqued my interest in the novels of Thomas Love Peacock. I'm currently enjoying his Headlong Hall in a volume from the Humboldt State University Library that was published in 1923 (when it was acquired by the then-Humboldt State Teachers' College) in an Everyman's Library edition first published in 1908, which was not quite a century after it was written. The edition includes Nightmare Abbey, which I'll read next. But there are eloquent and witty passages of Headlong Hall that still apply to today (as do passages and dialogue of G.B. Shaw, who I dip into on one excuse or another.)

Another bedside read--which in this case is a re-read--is Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics. It was only after I started reading it that I realized that it had certain resemblances to Lightman's Einstein's Dreams which I read in the spring in the same circumstances, fulfilling the same function or need--these relatively short, thematically related flights of imagination. Very good ushers into dreamland.

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