NYTBR 7 June 2009: The Short List

Books self is interested in reading after perusing the 7 June 2009 issue of The New York Times Book Review:

1. After reading Paul Berman’s review of Gerald Martin’s Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Life :

Gerald Martin’s Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Life

2. After reading Anthony Doerr’s review of Josh Weill’s The New Valley: Novellas:

Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich
Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
Joyce’s The Dead
Mann’s Death in Venice
Garcia Marquez’s Chronicles of a Death Foretold

3.    After reading Dagmar Herzog’s review of Anne Nelson’s Red Orchestra:  The Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler:

Anne Nelson’s Red Orchestra:  The Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler

4.    After reading the “Crime” column of Marilyn Stasio:

    Jeffery Deaver’s latest, Roadside Crosses
    a first mystery by Rebecca Cantrell, A Trace of Smoke

We Live in Such Interesting Times

Self was just musing today about how many different and varied voices there are streaming in and out of her head at the moment. If she were simply to catalogue what she has heard on the TV today, it would consist of this:

  • Nancy Grace, who self happens to like (She is a drama queen, but not, thank goodness, over clothes) talking about the latest disappeared babies
  • A demonstration of a bunch of people demanding to see Barack Obama’s birth certificate
  • Rachel Maddow, Stanford alum (and openly gay) news pundit discussing Donald Trump’s firing of Miss California for non-fulfillment of contractual obligations (“Why should anyone be interested in what a beauty queen has to say about such topics?” the new Miss California was quoted as saying on Larry King Live. “Well,” said the guest on the Rachel Maddow show, who looked like Michael Musto, “maybe we should just expect them to answer questions like: what is the content of a cheeseburger?” He added: “If you can’t tell that the person asking you the question is the second gay-est man in America after Richard Simmons, weeell … ” ‘Nuff said.)

So, yes, these are truly interesting times. And it is in this context that self decides to pick up one of “Ardy’s books” (self went to town when Vince Fitzgerald issued the announcement that he was making the contents of Dear Departed Prof. Ardavan Davaran’s office available to anyone who wanted to “adopt” a book from Ardy’s shelves: she took home at least 20 books, she needed a cart to haul them all to her car). The book is Initiation: Stories and Short Novels on Three Themes, and it is edited by David Thorburn. The first couple of sentences of his Introduction read thus:

The spirit in which we approach literature, the assumptions that govern our reading of individual literary works, have a decisive importance.  Immense learning, wide experience with literature, critical ingenuity —  these and other virtues will ultimately count for little, and may in fact lead us into extraordinary foolishness, if we have not begun in the proper spirit:  if we have not, that is to say, tried to identify some first principles for the whole enterprise of reading and studying literature.

Hmm, very interesting!  Self will now proceed to read the rest of the Introduction, so that her mind will be all refreshed by the time hubby gets home.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.,

The Whereabouts of Dearest Mum

When self got home from the movie (really, need you even ask what movie), there was a little box on her front doorstep. The little box was about 3 inches by six inches, and nestled inside were about 20 small pieces of polvoron. Oh, that is just wonderful. Dearest Mum must have dropped by on one of her peregrinations between malls. But she did not call beforehand, so most likely she and aunt didn’t have time to make a formal visit: they must have dashed up to the front door, dropped the box, and gone off without knocking or leaving a post-it note (Remember: self is supposed to be in seclusion! Writing her brilliant novel!)

Now, then. Self eventually gets a hold of Dearest Mum so that she can thank her profusely for the 20 polvoron. And gets an update on all of Dearest Mum’s activities for the day. For example, self learned that Dearest Mum is all agog over meeting niece G’s boyfriend’s parents and grandparents, for dinner this Saturday. And she went hunting all over three malls for just the right outfit. And found a gorgeous blue Valentino (only $150!) at The Great Mall. And Dearest Mum wonders whether things will just get “too sticky” with the boyfriend’s parents, but she did want to look “great,” and she said she planned to take G to the parlor today, and buy her some new clothes.

And meanwhile here is self, with the 20 polvoron, which is making her extremely fat, and she was in no mood to cook dinner, so she took the li’l crits for a walk, and they crapped of course, and self had the doggy bags ready but couldn’t help wondering whether Dearest Mum even noticed that self had planted five new roses in her front yard since last year, but since Dearest Mum was going on and on and on about whether or not self thought niece G’s boyfriend was going to propose, self didn’t think Dearest Mum noticed and, at the very end of the conversation, Dearest Mum suddenly asks, “And how’s the novel coming along?”

And why would that be of any interest to her? Self nearly told her what it was really about (not about anyone who would go shopping in The Great Mall, that’s for sure!) but it would probably put Dearest Mum to sleep!

“I’ll take it home and show it to your mother-in-law,” Dearest Mum said.

“What? My novel?” self stammered.

“No! Why would I bring your novel! I meant the pictures of A that you’re going to take this weekend! At his graduation!”

Oh! Self thought: her mind must really be wandering! She had no idea that was what she and Dearest Mum had been talking about: son’s graduation. Somehow she got lost in a thicket of topics (and moreover had wandered outside with the phone cradled against her ear and begun absentmindedly deadheading the rose bushes) — the blue Valentino, the polvoron, niece G’s boyfriend, the imminent wedding proposal, and so forth and so on.

And now self is sure she won’t cook dinner. She’s going to treat herself to an All Meat Marvel from Round Table Pizza! And have it delivered!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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