Thursday, 23 July 2009

Reading challenges. . .

Long novels don't scare me; I usually relish them.
I've read Proust and War and Peace. One of my favourite books is A Dance to the Music of Time. Recently, I've tackled Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones and Roberto Bolano's 2666.
But long non-fiction? That's a whole other matter, and I don't know why this is so. It's not the genre of non-fiction itself, just any book that is over 500 pages. I painstakingly crawl through it, even when I'm enjoying the read (I took over a year to read Hermione Lee's terrific biography of Virginia Woolf and then spent another year with her equally impressive bio of Edith Wharton). Maybe I spend too much time reading the footnotes. Maybe biographies (in particular literary ones) send me off on other reading tangents. Maybe the books are too heavy to cart around and so they get relegated to the groaning shelves of my bedside tables to lie on top of more biographies, histories and litcrit tomes all with bookmarks sticking out at various spots. It's a crazy way to read - by the time I get back into the books, I've forgotten parts of what I've already read.

A friend from England just sent me The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D. and The Imagists by Helen Carr. This recently published book looks fabulous and right up my reading alley. But . . . it's 982 pages!

I've read the Prologue which is only four pages. It promises "rich drama, involving passion, betrayal, sexual jealousy, literary envy, bereavement, shell-shock, class antagonisms, friendship, adultery, cruelty, bullying and pique". I've looked at the photos. I'm really going to try to break my habits with this one and actually finish it in a reasonable time - maybe by Labour Day? HA!

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