Tuesday, August 01, 2006

So, I take the three aforementioned books on my France trip. I'm about halfway through the Updike. Unlike "Rabbit, Run", it's impressing me more as what I'd expected from a (talented) writer in his late 20s. The observational parts are as brilliant as I've come to expect but the Greek fantasy episodes are weak and come off as an entirely unnecessary flouting of the author's erudition. In any case, I'm dipping into while waiting at CDG for Linda (long story re: connecting flights not worth going into), depositing it into the little basket atop my (free!) luggage cart when I go walking around. Linda arrives, has her own cart, we consolidate baggage onto hers and walk blithely away, leaving poor Updike in the basket, nevermore to be seen. Damn. Worse, ambling over to the nearest bookstore to my office (a surprisingly well-stocked Border's), they didn't have it. So no determination on "The Centaur" yet.

The Russell, as expected, was fine. Pretty amazing how current many of his concerns remain. Its spine now on prominent display in my bookcase, awaiting the shocked discovery by one of my in-laws....

But the real discovery was Norman Rush's "Mating". What a wonderful novel! Not that I keep so up to date on all things literary, but I'm a little baffled as to how this work, published in 1991, flew so entirely below my radar. It's certainly good enough--and seems to have been deemed so from most quarters--that I'd've expected it to be routinely mentioned in the years since. Dunno! In any case, it's a very fine story with a couple (and more) of seriously fascinating characters. Perhaps there was some discomfort re: a male writer painting such an honest, self-searching portrait of a female character, but that character is one of the finest and most beautifully drawn I've come across in ages. Great book.

So, I picked up his third, and most recent, book, "Mortals" yesterday.

Also acquired a collection of linguistic essays, "Language Myths", edited by Laurie Bauer & Peter Trudgill as well as Paul Feyerabend's "Conquest of Abundance".

Oh, and reading "To Kill a Mockingbird: at home, which I'd never gotten around to....

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