Showing posts from January, 2012

Book Mark Rants

I don't want to seem like a snob. I probably am. I just don't want to appear that way. I have nothing against entertainment in general. Who does? But I'm also a lover of the arts. And by arts I mean music and literature, and by literature I really mean good books in general. For those of you not familiar with my take on art, I differentiate it from entertainment. Example, Lady Gaga is a performer. She wears costumes; she dances; she tries to sing. But she's an entertainer. Or as I like to think of her: a hot dog: more preservatives than meat. The irony may be that she’s worn it. Her image is everything – attitude, choreography, flipping off media at a ball game, etc. She’s imaginative and bold, and something can be said for those who succeed in that field, though not much. But I don't consider her an artist per se. I mean, while her sub-field is music, she's not a musician. Which is just as well since most consumers aren’t concerned with music in general anyway…

"Pale Fire" by Vladimir Nabokov

Based solely on the Table of Contents (Forward, Poem, Commentary) you might assume you're in for a dry academic study of a poet’s work. This is the book’s veneer. Once peeled away, an exhilarating story unfolds. Pale Fire is written, first person, by one Charles Kinbote, a native of Zembla, now living in New Wye, Appalachia, and a recently hired professor at WordsmithCollege. Before this book is published, Kinbote rents a house from one Judge Goldsworth, who years ago had a madman named Jack Grey committed to an insane asylum. The judge is away on sabbatical when Kinbote moves in.
Next door lives our celebrated poet, John Shade. He writes a 999-line poem he entitles Pale Fire – stirring verse full of poignant imagery, double entendres, brilliant puns and word games. (As a rule, I deplore poetry; but this is fantastic stuff.) Shade dies; the manuscript falls (you’ll learn how) to Kinbote. He writes the accompanying Forward and Commentary and finds a publisher.
This is that book.

"Tempest-Tost" by Robertson Davies

First book in the Salterton Trilogy. I’d read book two, Leaven of Malice, first, back in November (see blog post). That was a paperback stand alone. Then nearly two weeks ago I found the whole trilogy in a thick paperbound book hiding in a bag against my bedroom wall. Didn’t even know I had it. I swear; I really need to clean my room. This stack of thirty-seven pizza boxes is about to tip over too.
Reading the books out of sequence didn’t hurt anything; the stories are self contained.
Great books are like a seduction, an intimate relationship between reader and writer. When the writer’s command of the language is sure, the reader will moisten the fingers and caress the story as it unfolds, soon “mmm-ing” and “ah-ing” as another pleasure is laid bare. Eventually the writer has the reader in the throes of a passion and an ecstasy until ultimately the reader is panting, lying naked, and in a fevered delirium!
Or is that just me?
Book three, A Mixture of Frailties, closes out the trilogy,…