Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Salon

The Sunday

Today I must work from 5 pm to 11. Unlike many people, I actually prefer early morning hours because then I can get the whole unpleasantness over with. (Luckily, I will be starting a new job next week!) Unfortunately, because I had to work yesterday as well, I was unable to participate in Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-Thon. My reading can be pretty sporadic, so having a challenge set for me would have been a great help. In fact, the only reason I am continuing to plod along through An American Tragedy is because of the Chunkster Challenge. The intro says that Dreiser's ponderous prose will soon become an "emotional vortex," but so far the only thing that sucks is, well, the ponderous prose. Ugh, here is a sample:
But more interesting and more to his purpose at the time was the fact that both Hegglund and Ratterer, in spite of, or possibly because of, a secret sense of superiority which they detected in Clyde, were inclined to look upon him with no little interest and to court him and to include him among all their thoughts of affairs and pleasures.
Alas, Dreiser's love affair with litotes, convoluted sentences, and unfortunate names (Hortense?) is as tragic as Clyde and . . . that girl he ends up killing. I don't know who it is yet because I haven't gotten to that part.

In the meantime, however, I am currently breezing through Suzane Adam's Laundry, one of four books I have just received from Autumn Hill Books. It's an Israeli novel, translated from Hebrew by Becka Mara McKay. I am about halfway through and thoroughly enjoying it. Normally I find psychological thrillers boring, but Adam's prose, even in translation, is beautifully done. Added to that is the unfolding mystery of both Ildiko's past and recent events that have necessitated a lawyer and almost resulted in her being committed to the psych ward. (It is also interesting how all these Hungarian names sound Japanese - i.e. Yutzi, Zsuzsi, Marishka.) The other three books I got from AHB are also translated fiction, which I hope to make the primary focus of this blog.

I am also very pleased to announce that my review for HarperStudio's upcoming Who is Mark Twain? is up! When Twain died in 1910, he left behind some 500,000 pages of written remains, multitudes of which remain unpublished. Robert H. Hirst of Berkeley's Mark Twain Project has hand-picked twenty-four of these literary scraps, some unfinished, to introduced to the reading public for the very first time. Needless to say, I am very pleased to have been given an advance copy! Who is Mark Twain? will be released on the 21st, and I strongly recommend it for anyone who would like a novel introduction to one of America's greatest authors.

Although I haven't picked it up in several days, I would also like to re-read A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870-1920 by Michael McGerr, having won a copy of Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler's The Crimes of Paris from a giveaway on Unmainstream Mom Reads. The Crimes of Paris deals with the Modernist art movement of the early twentieth century, which is also my favorite time period to study. I read A Fierce Discontent in college and did a multimedia presentation on it (that involved a listening to "Your Daddy's Son" from the Ragtime musical and a book of Alfred Stieglitz photography), but most of it has by now slipped my mind. If I could chose any era to have lived in, it would New York City from 1890 to 1930! The Crimes of Paris should be excellent!

Okay, now I'm off to other Sunday Salons on other blogs. Happy reading, everyone!


Anonymous said...

Except for An American Tragedy (which I recall reading way back when I was pregnant almost 30 years ago - talk about "ponderous"!) the rest of the books your mention are new to me. The Crimes of Paris does sound intriguing! As does your multi-media presentation.

Thank you for your nice comment on my Sunday Salon post at Bookstack today :)

Nancy said...

Thank you for the word "litotes," which I had never heard before. I love it when I learn a new word! (And I agree about Dreiser's style...)


E. L. Fay said...

Ravenous - You're welcome! I really didn't plan out my presentation - I just kind of made it up as a I went along. (Even though it was for a grad course!) But luckily everyone liked it and I got an A.

Nancy - I didn't know what a litote was either until my senior year of college when I had to read Thomas More's Utopia for a research seminar on Renaissance Utopias. Our editions had included an essay on litotes that featured a cartoon that showed two confused people on a front porch. The door mat said "Not Unwelcome." Basically, a litote is a rhetorical device that "denies the contrary" and admits ambiguity, if that makes any sense. In More's case, this was deliberate, as he didn't want his readers to take Utopia seriously as a blueprint for the perfect society. I'm not sure what Dreiser was trying to accomplish.

Wendy said...

I love psychological thrillers - will have to keep my eye open for Laundry. Congrats on your review!!! How exciting :)

the_young_dude said...

Nice selection - I wish my mailbox was that full!

E. L. Fay said...

Wendy - Actually, I'm not sure Laundry is so much a thriller as it is intensely psychological. There is a lot of suspense, though. If you like thrillers, then you'll probably like Laundry.

Dude - My mailbox is rarely this full! This week was a fluke!

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