The Books of My Numberless Dreams

What’s next

Posted on: January 23, 2008

I have another Early Reviewer ARC sitting desolately among four piles of books on my night table. I did appreciate the book swag that came along with it.

Me: I got some freebies with my latest ARC!

Friend: Ooooo, what was it?

Me: A bookmark!

Friend: …..aaah. A fancy one?

Me: ….no. Actually I kinda hate it because it’s riddled with promo for one of those awful “Famous-writers-name-their-top-ten-favourites” crap that I avoid at all costs. I deliberately block the info whenever I pick it up, so that to this day, though I’ve been using it for Tristram Shandy, the only words on it I can recall are “TOP TEN”.

Friend: [laughs] You’re so picky.

Me: It is a nice shade of blue….and I got some card things. Ad cards? For more of the publishers offerings. I have no idea which books they advertise but, again, lovely colour combos, so I’m sure I can use them in my bigger text books.

Friend: Mmmmm. So these are the perks of a dedicated book reviewer?

Me: Apparently. And the…well, whoever wrote that lovely form letter giving me an idea of what the book is about, how I was one among the 15 chosen (which made me feel special), that I should talk with my fellow “reviewers”…anyway, that guy? He also added a personal greeting at the end. Which, I think, was also supposed to make me feel special.

Friend: Are those supposed to be the riches that established reviewers believe will send all you book bloggers sprinkling every new release with gold stickers?

Me: Yes. [both laugh] I do like the bookmarks though. Can never get enough of them. If I get an especially nice one, maybe two, who knows…we could work something out. I bet those NYTBR guys score stellar bookmarks.

The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence is the next Slaves of Golconda read, due at the end of February, so I have it in my sights. It is one of my all-time favourites and my first introduction to Canadian literature as an adult, since my previous experience had only been with L.M. Montgomery. It is a character driven novel and not a happy one with a main character who some may not find very sympathetic but, for me, Hagar Shipley defied such neat categorizations. It’s a shame that, to my mind, her high place in the national canon seems entirely supported by the academy. Some friend remember reading it or The Diviners in school and hating it (of course). As many managed to go through school without having read anything from her at all. I’ve never met a fellow fan who was under 35.

That worries me but my impression may be entirely wrong and I certainly hope it is. Anyway, I’m glad it was picked as the next Golconda read as she is a non-entity outside of Canada.

The Paris Review translation panel spiked my interest in Eugenio Montale who is considered one of the masters of 20th century Italian literature. I don’t know much about him, only that his poetry came up fairly often in the conversation, so I decided to try him out. The book gods have been pushing me in Italy’s direction for some time. Since December I read three books, more or less in succession, with prominent references to Dante’s Divine Comedy; and in two issues of Bookforum — both the latest and an older issue — carried two articles which had major Italian artistic figures as their focus. The latest had a review of The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa, translated by Archibald Colquhoun (whose translation was deemed so perfect as to need little improvement, hence the lack of new attempts) and an excerpt from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s diary (or memoir? I forget which). And a review of Leon Battisti Alberti’s Momus which proved handy as Tristram Shandy had a Momus reference.

In going through the reviews of a recent release for the purpose of doing a review of them I’ve concluded that the excellent, good, or even useful 800 word review is a myth perpetuated by publicists ever in the need of blurbs.

1 Response to "What’s next"

Okay, I’m eager to get to the Laurence (in a week or two) — I probably am drawn to books that people under 35 don’t like, even though I’m under 35 (for a while at least) …

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