Sunday, March 20, 2005

Y Kant Nick Read?

The scintillating and bookwise Dr. S posted a comment to my last entry in which she heartily recommended a new book by Jonathan Safran Foer (I assume she means this one). I'd love to read it; I'd love to read everything. Sadly, as you watch the titles drop like flies from that "On My Nightstand" roll-call in the right-hand margin, you'd be wrong to get the idea that I am finishing these tomes. Great Expectations started deliciously, and my long-distance love-button and I were trying to read it in tandem, but he lapped me a long time ago and I can't catch up.

I have been relishing The Divine Husband by Francisco Goldman even more. It's a tantalizing, perversely embellished, and wittily historical story about two young novitiate nuns in 19th-century Guatemala and their rebellious libidos, acrid jealousies, religious confusions, and their intersections with various real-life characters from that volatile moment in Central American history. If I'm making it sound dry, it isn't. Read the first page or two, and you're in. But I'm still having the Jabba problem, so I haven't picked it up again in three weeks.

The one book I did finish recently was another academic read, D.N. Rodowick's Gilles Deleuze's Time Machine (pictured above), which is a sort of graduated explication of Deleuze's theories of film, as propounded in his pair of famous Cinema books. Rodowick is a more than reliable Virgil if you're still trying to keep all of Deleuze's dazzling but dizzying categories straight in your mind; at the same time, it's not the kind of book you can read instead of the Cinema volumes, because Rodowick's translations and expansions already assume that you've made your own first pass through Deleuze (even if it was a slightly bewildered one, which, c'mon, is likely). So, I recommend the book, but it's kind of got limited appeal.

Plus it's not what you wanna take with you on Spring Break. If I had my druthers right now, I'd sail through the rest of Divine Husband and quench my desire to read a good play, which I haven't done in a while: piling up in my living room, I've got Jean Genet's The Screens (think The Battle of Algiers as staged by Artaud), John Guare's Landscape of the Body (a personal fave of Tony Kushner, apparently), and the collected works of Maria Irene Fornès. With the Pulitzer announcements just around the corner, I always get a hankering to read good plays. They're amazing, and they're short.

What's everyone else reading?

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13 Comments:

Blogger Dr. S said...

Now:

Sebald's The Emigrants; The Autobiography of Malcolm X; Eliot's Middlemarch. Those are for class. (How good is my life? How lucky are my kids?)

Norma Clarke's Ambitious Heights: Writing, Friendship, Love -- The Jewsbury Sisters, Felicia Hemans, and Jane Carlyle (Yes, that's all one title -- may I never have a title like that, you know, other than my dissertation title.)

I have The Scarlet Letter and The Blithedale Romance ready to go, but I also want to keep reading current stuff. McEwan's Saturday will arrive sometime this week, and I will want to plunge right in, but instead I will try to keep myself on task with reading Carlyle-related things.

xoxo

6:43 PM, March 20, 2005  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Ooo! but I'm also about to start reading Bourdieu's Field of Cultural Production, as part of my continuing self-education in theory I somehow didn't read in grad school.

6:44 PM, March 20, 2005  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

Was that a "Friends of the Library" buy?

7:29 PM, March 20, 2005  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Oh, if only. No, I bought this to top up my B&N order of Vassanji's new novel, The In-Between Life of Vikram Lall, back in January.

By the way, Middlemarch is even better the sixth or seventh time. (I've lost count.)

8:22 PM, March 20, 2005  
Anonymous ryan said...

now this is the kind of list making discussion that I can get into! (I'm still waiting for someone to get breathless about art exhibitions, but I guess I'm going to have to start a blog of my own for that). So I just have to say Sebald's Emigrants is great, I can't wait to get to the new McEwan and I have a ridiculous soft spot for Bourdieu (there are a few shades of academia I can't seem to shake off!) And I don't want to give too much away because Nat's got grand plans, but I've got several histories of the Crusades on reserve at the library...

9:56 PM, March 20, 2005  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

Sebald lovers in the hizzouse!! I haven't read The Emigrants, but first Austerlitz and then The Rings of Saturn just took my breath away. I actually read the entirely of The Rings of Saturn during a 12-hour train ride, which strikes me as just the way Sebald would have wanted to be read, with all kinds of scenery whizzing by.

Granted it was Syracuse–Detroit scenery, but not all of us have Paris, Gdansk, and the rolling moors in our backyard.

R.I.P., W.G.! And keep the comments flowing, y'all. This is fun.

10:12 PM, March 20, 2005  
Anonymous ryan said...

okay - i have to admit i've never really even attempted the Deleuze thing in a serious way (that was always more Johanna's territory). Should I go there?
by the way, I love the Tori reference - has anyone heard the new album? I'm not hearing great things, so I can't decide whether or not to part with my money...

10:20 PM, March 20, 2005  
Blogger Dr. S said...

I remember picking you up at the train station when you were reading Rings of Saturn, because I was late and you were like, "Oh, don't worry, I was reading another novel by Sebald, Rings of Saturn." And I remember thinking that Sebald was writing sci fi, or something. Silly me. I still haven't finished Austerlitz or read Vertigo. I'll tell you how my 15 first-year students do when we start Emigrants on Wednesday... since they survived De Quincey (and even wrote decent papers about him), I think they'll be OK.

Pulitzer Prize winners get announced April 4!!!

10:44 PM, March 20, 2005  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

@ Ryan - I really love Deleuze, both despite and because of the fact that his means of expressing concepts can be half-mad. Every book seems to have about 50 new terms that he's just sort of made up for himself, but "schizzes" and "noosigns" and "organs without bodies" are way more fun than the same old signifiers and signifieds, if you ask me. I jumped right in with Anti-Oedipus and the water was just fine, but the shorter, more specific books on Kafka or Foucault or the Dialogues with Claire Parnet would be just as good as places to start.

@ Sarah - I was wondering if you remembered that connection. Meanwhile, I'd love to be reading The Blithedale Romance, or even The Scarlet Letter again, which is still one of my all-time favorites. (For two amazing and horrifyingly apt transplants of the Scarlet Letter plot into the modern day, read Suzan-Lori Parks' Red Letter Plays, subtitled "In the Blood" and "Fucking A."

@ Ryan again - I'm not hearing good things about the new Tori album, either, but I've never plunged ahead with my Tori fandom anyway. I always like what I overhear, but I've never bought a CD. Maybe I've already used up all my wild-woman quota with my deep PJ immersions and Cat Powser chasers. But save me from myself if I'm making a mistake.

1:01 AM, March 21, 2005  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

@ the Cosmos, or at least @ Blogger - Can we discuss how much I hate not being able to edit the Comments. Sarah, I forgot a ")". Ryan, obviously, Cat Power (though "Cat Powser" sounds like a cool comic-book noise).

1:07 AM, March 21, 2005  
Blogger Dr. S said...

I'm glad to see that you put The Screens on your nighttable.

The reason I'm up for Scarlet Letter is that my Eliot students said, "Hey, um, Adam Bede has a lot in common with The Scarlet Letter..." and started rattling off parallels. I thought, hunh! I should look into that! When I'll get to, I don't know.

10:20 PM, March 21, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the safran-foer book is good. yes. but i've been reading something MUCH funnier, (and shorter): http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0345476603/102-8165496-9981720?v=glance

i'll finish it today. can't recommend it more. if you want a short, hilarious, touching love story...

10:16 AM, March 30, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the safran-foer book is good. yes. but i've been reading something MUCH funnier, (and shorter): behind everyman by david israel.

i'll finish it today. can't recommend it more. if you want a short, hilarious, touching love story...

10:30 AM, March 30, 2005  

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