Is it just me, or has it been sort of quiet out there? Actually it's been pretty quiet around here, though perhaps that's just as well as life has been hectic for me at work and I've not been able to devote much attention to blogging of late. I do apologize for not making the reading rounds as I'd like--can I possibly be even more behind than I normally am? I finally had to clear out my Google Reader feed and all the starred posts that I've meant to go leave comments on as the list was getting so unwieldy that it was sort of stressing me out. Better to start from scratch, I think. I hate missing out on what everyone is reading and writing about and not join in on the conversation, but I do hope to catch up in some manner very soon.
So, an easy post tonight. New books are always fun to think and talk about. My subscription reading is moving along nicely, but the next round of books has already appeared in my mailbox as I am midread in last month's group of books. Never fear (she tells herself) I'll catch up, or the pile will just simply grow like all the rest of the book piles in my house.
I still need to write about Bartleby the Scrivener and my post is partially written. It's actually been sort of good to ruminate on that one. I forgot how full of meaning Melville is. And then there is Baudelaire's Fanfarlo, which I am not sure what I feel about that one. You know the feeling--when you read a book or story that is neither overwhelmingly wonderful or bad? Just middle of the road. Of course maybe when I do sit down to write about I'll find I have more to say than I thought. Next up is Mark Twain's The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg. I think he's going to the gym with me tomorrow as that is a sure way of spending 'uninterrupted' (as much as time in a noisy gym can be uninterrupted) time with a book.
Joining the queue is Leo Tolstoy's The Devil, which he thought it so scandalous that he hid it from his wife in the upholstery of an office chair! It is a "gripping tale of an aristocratic landowner slowly overcome with unrelenting sexual desire for one of the peasants on his estate". Nikolai Leskov's The Enchanted Wanderer is "a picaresque fold adventure narrated by a Russian bogatyr, or wandering warrior, [which] tells the tale of a roustabout Candide with a revolutionary edge". At 208 pages it's practically a chunkster in comparison with the other novellas I've received.
I was going to title my post "The Russian are Here! The Russians are Here!" Aren't you glad I didn't! My new NYRB Classic, however, is another work translated from Russian. Obviously this reading project (if I do indeed get all the books read in a timely manner) is going to do wonders for my desire to read more books in translation. February's NYRB book is Vasily Grossman's An Armenian Sketchbook. I have a feeling I might not otherwise have chosen this book, but I am happy to have it to read now that I have it in hand. Martin Amis called Grossman "the Tolstoy of the USSR", so it will be a good comparison to read Tokstoy, Leskov and Grossman together (and I've been reading about Anton Chekhov, too).
"This is by far the most personal and intimate of Grossman's works, endowed with an air of absolute spontaneity, as though he is simply chatting to the reader about his impressions of Armenia--its mountains, its ancient churches, its people--while also examining his own thoughts and moods. A wonderfully human account of travel to a faraway place, An Armenian Sketchbook also has the vivid appeal of a self-portrait."
Before I can crack open the Grossman, however, I need to finish reading William McPherson's Testing the Current, which has the potential of being one of my favorite reads of the year, I'm liking it so much. There is something about it that vaguely reminds me of L.P. Hartley's The Go-Between and the writing of William Maxwell, though the story is really not at all like either. Maybe it's the quality of the writing/storytelling.
And there is still The Invention of Morel to read, but as that was an incentive/freebie for the subscription, I'll just try and squeeze it in somewhere along the way.
So many good books to read this month. What books are you looking forward to reading?
By the way--I am definitely having problems of legitimate comments landing in my spam filter--apologies for this as the comments are from people who drop by frequently so I'm not sure why Typepad is all of a sudden blocking them. I have contacted them and will see if there is a way to fix the problem, but in the interim if you think your comment has been 'eaten' or has disappeared, it is likely in the spam filter and I am retrieving them as soon as I spot them. Sorry for the inconvenience--such a pity as comments/conversations are my favorite part of blogging.