Reading for May, 2005

In the past month, I read:
The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields. This novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1995. I think Larry’s Party is an even better novel, which was the first book I read by Shields. She had a gift for cosmic comedy. In case you don’t know, she died of cancer in 2003 at the age of 68.
Thinks Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I picked this one off of the “popular library” shelf at the central library, the shelf where they have multiple copies of books which are commonly assigned to students. I see that there are some sequels.
The Old Wives Tale by Arnold Bennett, number 87 on the Modern Library list. The main characters, Constance and Sophia, are wholly dull. One thing I will say for Bennett: he doesn’t disappoint your expectations because he never raises your expectations. And with this novel, I am at the 50/100 mark on the Modern Library list.
Abandoned novels:
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. Robinson won the Pulitzer Prize with her most recent novel. That book has a long hold queue at the library, so I picked this one up first. Full of sleepy prose, there is no real direction to the story, as far as I can tell after skimming through the second half. The story is set in a town on the edge of a glacial lake, and consequently fails to be relevant to the world of 1980, when it was written. Maybe, just maybe, there is a quirky arthouse screenplay in there, but who cares?

Current reading: More Carol Shields, and the posthumous poetry collection Runny Babbit by the beloved Shel Silverstein.

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3 Responses to “Reading for May, 2005”
  1. Capt_Poco says:

    What did you thnk of Achebe? I little too African, I thought, but I kinda liked it. In the same way I might like Homer or Aristotle. Teachers say it’s good, but ultimatly it’s irrevalent, though well written. What do I care about the invasion of white settlers and missionaries into Africa?

  2. Brandon says:

    I thought the Achebe book was well crafted — it starts off with a harsh portrayal of African culture, but then you become sympathetic to that culture as the missionaries start to change things. I think cultural conflict is a much more relevant theme than some of the stuff I’ve come across in newer literature.