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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Too many books

This week's New Yorker cover says it all. The books pile up. How are we to decide what to read, find time to read, or even know what goes into the pile? What, for that matter, is a "book" any more. Sometimes I feel that weeks or months go by and I haven't read any books at all, and yet I'm reading all the time. Magazines compete. So do blogs. If I listen to a book on tape is it the same as reading it? And now I am finding myself enlightened and distracted by podcasts - podcasts that are about books. Slate, Powells, the New York Times have all jumped on this train.

Here's a good and timely interview with son-in-law discussing the role of the literary journal in all of this. Agni, he tells us, is going to introduce a blog by editor Sven Birkerts. I'll be looking forward to it.

In the meantime, here are some of my recent book encounters:

Brainiac, by Ken Jennings. Combines a history of trivia as an idea and the story behind his Jeopardy success. An easy, entertaining read.

Shopgirl, by Steve Martin. Listened to this on tape, read by the author. I have enjoyed Martin's short humor in The New Yorker and expected more of the same. Instead, it's an X-rated (OK maybe just R nowadays) urban fairy tale about the intersecting lives of Mirabelle, the artist and glove salesgirl at Neiman Marcus, Mr Ray Porter, the gentleman millionaire who is infatuated by her, and Jeremy, a young man who has a lot to learn about everything. Beautiful writing, highly recommended. There is, apparently, also a movie, starring Martin as Mr. Ray Porter. I think I'd enjoy seeing it, though it's hard to imagine how it could tell the story any better.

The Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel, and Blankets, by Craig Thomson. I'm lumping these together because they are both "graphic novels", or grown-up comic books. Also R- rated. I loved them both; Blankets is a fairly traditional "first love" coming of age story. The Fun Home, an unusual memoir, refers to the funeral home run by the author's family.

In the works right now, for future reporting:
Georges Perec. Life A User's Manual
Doug Psaltis. The Seasoning of a Chef
George How Colt. The Big House
Pico Iyer. Falling off the Map (audiotape)


Blogger Philippa said...

I admire you! Do you keep a private diary as well as this blog? Have you had your writing published in any way throughout your life? I am sixty-five this year and attempt to keep going. I have taken part in three plays this year in local theatre (as an actress) and want to get a good journal going again. I also so some stained glass, which I enjoy teaching to friends.
My latest reading which I am enjoying is a translation of a Norwegian novel, Out Stealing Horses. Beautiful writing. A coming of age, and to age, novel, by Per Petterson.
Cheers, Pippa Catling

11:13 PM  
Blogger sixty-five said...

Hi Pippa! No, no other journal, and no publications. I will look for the Petterson book and it sounds to me as if you are doing very well indeed!

5:55 PM  

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