The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Alive and reading

Posted on: July 19, 2008

To break through my marvellous summer blogging block, let’s have a look at what I am or about to gobble up, shall we? (I have a zillion half-finished 1,000 word drafts molting in the dashboard, not to mention literary magazines (print and online) languishing in neglect. Pathetic.)

I bought a pile of Peepal Tree Press books earlier this year one of which is published in conjunction with the Calabash Literary Festival we all know and love. I’m still with Jamaica’s first literary vanguard so I started with John Hearne’s Voices Under the Window. It’s a nice step forward after reading Rachel Manley’s book about her grandparents because Drumblair endsright around the time when Jamaica was moving into the black power movement and she (being of lighter skin) discovered it difficult (being of lighter skin) to make a place for herself. Her grandparent’s legacy in Jamaica’s fight for independence turned out to be an albatross. Hearne, as Kwame Dawes wrote in the novel’s introduction, was in a similar position because of his skin colour and his neglect to pen a suitably political novel to reflect the times, according to his detractors. Beyond that Dawes makes much of Hearne’s flashback technique and how it shapes the novels over-all structure and influences one’s reading. I’m curious to see what I’ll make of it.

Northwestern University Press is currently my favourite press because of the Pierre Jean Jouve in its blacklist. Paulina 1880 made the start of my year amazing and I’m expecting similar wonder here. I don’t even knowwhat The Desert World‘s about yet, but Lydia Davis is the translator (w00t!). Ugh, if only she could have translated all of Proust for Penguin.

Still with Adam Bede. My reading here has been rather distracted after an earnest start so I haven’t had anything thoughtful to blog about here or mention over at The Valve. Anyway, the other participants have rather l33t close-reading skills so colour me mostly a bystander in this experiment. Not that George Eliot is encouraging me to be much else. I’m more of Rich Puchalsky’s mind so far — I’m partial to all the character’s Eliot does not think much of and more or less wearied of that magnificent country paragon Adam Bede and the saintly Dinah (who God should please love so much that he takes her to her heavenly home so that I don’t have to abide anymore of her perfect preacher letters). Mrs. Poysner is my favourite so far if only because one minute I think she’s rather horrid and the next minute the best thing Adam Bede has going for it. Here Eliot is unable to lay hold hard enough to my moral rudder in order to establish what I ought to feel about her. Blergh.

What’s currently on your reading plate? And is your summer going well?

8 Responses to "Alive and reading"

I was thinking about you yesterday and I was going to send you an e-mail to find out if you had dropped out of the blogsophere.

Good to have you back! (And reading)


Aww, that’s sweet of you, Mr. Philp. No, I’m still around or will be as soon as I get back into gear. Things have been a bit odd this summer. Thanks for the welcome back!

I am reading Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, also The Inferno of Dante verse translations by Robert Pinsky. I also have 3 of Shakespeare’s books to read: Julius Caesar, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet. Just some light reading for the very hot summer!

Oh MissDaisy so happy to see you’re still around! Have to say your reading list bowls me over — I could never manage all those heavy books at once. How are you finding the Hardy — good reading or abit of a bore? And is that Dante translation good? I’ve been looking at what to get and Pinsky’s gets mentioned often. Hope you’re have a lovely summer!

Oh and not to discourage you from reading the play but you should try the Julius Caesar movie with Marlon Brando if you haven’t seen it yet. One of my faves!

I really like the Pinsky translation of The Inferno. In fact, he allowed me to use a few lines from Canto 1 as an epigraph to Benjamin, my son.

Ah, ok, Pinksy it is!

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