I'll soon be able to cross another book from the list, but I probably won't finish the last novella in Andrea Barrett's Ship Fever until tomorrow. It also happens to be the story I was planning on writing about today had I finished. Alas, it will wait until next weekend and instead there is still plenty of other bookishness to write about.
I did read (listen to actually) this week's New Yorker (November 30 issue) story by Rachel Kushner. It's the first time I have read anything by her and I do plan on reading more of her work. "57" is a fairly bleak story, very eye opening and it makes me thankful (fittingly for this weekend) for the calm and sedate life I lead. The number 57 is the IQ of the character in the story who commits a more heinous crime the day he is released from prison than the initial crime that put him there. He is then sentenced to life in prison and the story follows him, via his thoughts through his experiences. It's a thoughtful and thought provoking story. In a sense it is easy to judge someone like that yet, you also feel a certain amount of pity or sympathy as the man was dealt a pretty rotten hand of cards and his life just sort of snowballed down a bad path. You can read Kushner's Q&A about the story here.
Even though I didn't finish any books this long weekend, I still managed to spend a little quality time reading and made some progress in several books. When I wasn't reading I was having a really good meal here; my favorite restaurant (actually I combined reading and eating) and anything you choose from the menu will be delicious. I had grilled levain with roasted sweet potatoes, ricotta cheese and lentils. Yum. I am now volunteering twice a month here, and so spent an afternoon a lovely afternoon the day after Thanksgiving tearing tickets to the special exhibit. The people are nice, the surroundings gorgeous and for me it was a much more preferable way to spend Black Friday than even thinking of shopping. I also saw a fantastic film here. Next to books, going to movies is my favorite thing to do. I know I have been lamenting how many fewer books I seem to be reading the last few years. I can tell you what I have been doing in place of reading . . . going to movies. The film was such an amazing slice of life that it verged on the literary to be honest. And just like I enjoy reading books in translation and seeing how other people live in other places, so I like foreign films for the same reason. Maybe I need to look for some books about cinema. I am not even sure where I would start, but I see an opportunity to expand my reading and combine the two things I like most. I easily go to at least one movie every week and sometimes when I am feeling especially indulgent I have even gone to two or three if there is a good run of films.
Of course watching films sometimes inspires me to read a book afterwards. I want to read more about the suffragettes and silent films, and now I think I need to read Macbeth in anticipation of the new film adaptation that looks really impressive from the trailer. I have not read much Shakespeare, and haven't watched many of the film adaptations even though there are enough out there to keep a person busy for a very long time. To that end I have dug out from my bookshelves The Oxford Shakespeare Macbeth edited by Nicholas Brooke. The introduction alone is nearly 100 pages. I am not sure how I should approach this. Should I just throw all caution to the wind and dive right into the play? I know only the barest minimum about Macbeth I'm sorry to say. Maybe I should get the Macbeth Made Easy? As weird (or silly perhaps) as it sounds I have both a fear of Shakespeare and a desire to read/watch more of him.
On less shaky ground is the rest of my more recent reading. While I didn't finish any books over the break I did finish a couple of books just prior and my 'must write about these books soon' stack keeps increasing. I finished (finally) my 1947 Club book--only a month late, another really excellent graphic novel (with the intention of reading whatever else I can find by the author and other graphic novels in general), a recent release that was good if a little uneven for me, and another of the Little House books.
Let's see . . . along with Andrea Barrett I have been dipping into Margaret Laurence's A Jest of God (maybe I'll share a teaser this week and tell you more about it), and spending some quality time with Mary Russell in Justice Hall. Oh, and temptation has finally gotten the better of me. I have a stack of new (or not new but ready to add a 'new' title to the reading pile) books that I have been itching to start reading. I caved in and have started Anthony Quinn's The Blood Dimmed Tide. I have barely started but it looks to be a very entertaining read. It is the first of three historical novels set in Ireland during WWI and the Irish War of Independence. I think the stories themselves are unrelated but the period brings them together as a trio. This one makes use of a number of real people as characters, which is always iffy, but I think Quinn will likely pull it off. Besides, doesn't this sound good? "Surrounded by spies, occultists and Irish rebels, [Yeats and Charles Adams] are led on a gripping journey along Ireland's wild Atlantic coast, though the ruins of its abandoned estates, and its darkest, most haunted corners." A decidedly, 'it was a dark and stormy night' sort of read, eh?
So, that was my weekend in a nutshell. How did you spend yours?