Posted by: zhiv | January 7, 2012

January update: Not much to review

Hey look–I took another extended blogging break, but at least this time I might have a better excuse, as I started writing something. I have some typing to do, a long piece on Harold Frederic’s In the Valley, his Henry Esmond-like historical novel about the american Revolution in the Mohawk Valley in Central New York. And I enjoyed reading Solzhenitsyn’s A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and wrote it up–more typing. After that I read Jean Stafford’s The Mountain Lion. On that one I did a short prefatory post as I was wrapping it up, but lamely didn’t get around to writing the actual commentary, so it will take some doing to recreate and remember my response, but the main thing is that it’s a pretty great book, and I’d be very happy to read more Stafford.

So yeah, I guess I got a little busy, both writing and working, and I’ve been doing some traveling too Not doing so great on the reading in November and early December, but I just go back from a trip and read two very out of the way and peculiar books. The first is Ladies and Not-So-Gentle Women, a gossipy group biography of a fascinating set of Gilded Age characters, Elizabeth Marbury and Elsie de Wolfe, Anne Vanderbilt and Anne Morgan. That should be fun to write up. And then I read Escape, the story of Elizabeth Jessop’s life inside the polygamous world of the Fundamentalist LDS. Eager to talk about that one too.

I bought my own set of the complete Chekhov short stories in the Fall, the same one that Amateur Reader (Tom) has put to such good use, and started reading The Steppe. If I recall from my scattered Chekhov studies, it was a breakthrough, more ambitious story of greater length for the Maestro, and I never had an edition that included it before. As I mention in the Denisovich post, my son read Day in the Life and then moved on to Crime and Punishment. I just saw him and took him copies of Father and Son and Chekhov’s stories. Just some Russian Lit notes, and I could get serious about Chekhov now, with a complete edition, and read or reread everything. Over the great sprawl of time, don’t you know.

I just got distracted, however, by Edmund Wilson’s Axel’s Castle, which is just so clear and fun and interesting. Wilson is always pretty amazing, and this is yet another book that I’m kind of surprised I have never read. Other stuff too–and of course, since I made this note, my excuse about writing something isn’t really valid any more, as I’m on a break from that too. Oh well.

Trying to decide how to catch up. It might be best to do most recent first, since the stuff from a while ago (Mountain Lion) isn’t going to come any closer. But it’s still backwards, a little strange, and pretty lame. Whatever.

Happy New Year to the Happy Few. Everybody be safe out there and healthy, and enjoy your books and reading as you find it. Good times.

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