Showing posts from September, 2009

Any Recommendations

for other book and literary blogs?  Please note your favorite.  I'm still trying to find my way around.

Alice Munro Redux

I continue to read Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage.  And I don't mind saying that other than the title story, the structure and point of the other stories often leaves me completely mystified. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy them.  I enjoy much of them.  There are moments that I think that looking at the imaginary wallpaper on my living room wall might be more interesting, but they are rare and mostly due to my own inattention.

I set out to chart the course of one of the stories and noted that it was divided into what could be considered 11 distinct sections or, were it a novel, chapters. The first scene seems to have nothing whatsoever to do with the main body of the story.  I've read it twice now and I don't know what connection I'm supposed to derive from it to the surrounding material.  Perhaps it's an instance of character development of the two lead characters; perhaps it is some form of oblique play-off.  Whatever it is, the purpo…

Questions About Reading Ulysses

(1) Should I read Ulysses?

Of course.  Everyone should.

(2) But isn't it really just for college students and people who, like, study literature?


(3) Could you be a little more forthcoming with that last answer?

I could, but I won't.  It's clear enough.  Reading Ulysses is for every reader.

(4) So are you saying I should be able to understand Ulysses?

No, silly person.  Why would you prefer understanding it to enjoying it?  It's a pretty certain bet that even the person who composed it didn't really understand it either at the time and especially not after a few years.  No artist really understands his or her own work, but if they do the job right, everyone, including the artist can thoroughly enjoy it.

(5) Are you saying that I can enjoy it without understanding it?

Obviously if you're in an absolute complete muddle, you'll be miserable reading it.  But you've got to get that English teacher out of your head who is pushing, pushing, pushing you to read…

Structures--Ulysses and Mrs. Dalloway

Virginia Woolf was well known to have little patience with Ulysses.  Joyce Carol Oates, in her book The Faith of a Writer suggests that part of this may have been the jealousy of one genius admiring the aplomb and power of another.  Following is a quotation from Virginia Woolf's diary available from Fathom.

"I have read 200 pages [of Ulysses] so far," Virginia Woolf writes in her diary for 16 August 1922, and reports that she has been "amused, stimulated, charmed[,] interested ... to the end of the Cemetery scene." As "Hades" gives way to "Aeolus," however, and the novel of character and private sensibility yields to a farrago of styles, she is "puzzled, bored, irritated, & disillusioned"--by no grand master of language, in her characterization, but "by a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples." No artifact of elite difficulty, Ulysses becomes for Woolf the "illiterate, underbred book ... of a self taught wor…

Some Disclaimers

(1) I do not make my living by commenting on literature.

(2) While I do hold a higher degree in English (which supposedly gives you the qualifications to make a living commenting in literature) I have never actively pursued a life that would give me the qualification to be listened to as I pontificated.

(3) If you're hear to read my pontifications, please see 1 and 2, and do not base your term papers, theses, or other important papers on anything you may see here.

(4) I welcome comments.  I welcome disagreement.  I do not welcome personally disparaging comments directed at me or at any member of the group that chooses (for whatever mysterious reason) to read what is posted here.

(5) Any reasonably intelligent person is entitled both to read and to enjoy literature and to make connections between pieces that may, in real life, have no connection whatsoever.  James Joyce may never have read Faulkner--it's almost certain that he didn't before he published Ulysses--that does n…

The Purposes of a New Blog

One of the purposes of this new blog for me is to encourage writing--to give me the time and the space that I need to reflect carefully on what I read and share the thoughts with those who are interested as I begin to churn them around into the things that I write.  It is to examine the theory of the agon of the author and to see which influences I incorporate and which I struggle against as I try to put together mny own works.  In short, it is a place to think out loud, and to share with anyone who cares to read some fruits of that thought.  Perhaps the reader will encounter a work that they have not considered reading, or perhaps a reader will have a different insight into a work that I have been interested in--a new key that opens another, previously unseen door. 

That is part of what I want to do here, and it seems better here, in its own place, rather than competing for space and breathing room in a blog that is supposed to be a sustained reflection on Carmelite matters.  By crea…

Alice Munro

My book group selected a book by Alice Munro to be our next book for discussion.  It was interesting to me in light of our choice to see that Alice Munro is on the Nobel Handicapping list with odds of 25:1.  Joyce Carol Oates (who, I noted the other day in the library has yet another book out--what does that make this year 30?) and Philip Roth are neck and neck at 7:1.  The odds-on favorite is Amos Oz (for a change, someone I've actually heard of, read, and even enjoyed) at 4:1.  But last year's favorite didn't win the sweeps, so I wouldn't put too much trust in the handicapping.


I have too long harried and wearied my main blog with ruminations on literature that really need their own breathing room. So, then, this is that room--named for one of my favorite lines of poetry.

I almost wrote "Let a thousand flowers bloom." But, given that it is both a misquotation and not an auspicious source anyway, it is perhaps better that I did not.

Oh, but then I did.