Guess where I might be going later this year? I had all but written off taking a (proper-go-away-somewhere-exciting) vacation this year, but things are sort of falling together. I might be going to lovely San Francisco in October. I am still in the thinking/planning/fantasizing mode but as I am looking into accommodations I guess you could say I am closer to being sure about it all than unsure. I loved (no really, really loved) San Francisco when I went last year. If I could afford to live there I would happily pack my bags and go. Alas, I can barely afford a short stay there (which this will be--but better than nothing), so a mini-vacation is still very welcome.
So this post is going to be on the abbreviated side, since I can't concentrate enough to write a proper book post. I do have all sorts of bookish bits to share still (when can I not talk about books?).
Since I am most likely going to San Francisco, I'll be reprising my reading list from last year. Hopefully I'll get to read more than I did than last summer. Reading about a place is (almost) as good as going there. I've already decided I need to read Dashiell Hammett who lived in the city and set his stories there. Not sure what else will pique my reading curiosity, but I'm on the lookout for some good, atmospheric stories. If you have any suggestions they would be most welcome.
I'm down to the last forty pages of Virginia Woolf's Jacob's Room, which I hope to finish tonight (as I come down off my vacation-planning high). I'm not sure I have a good handle on what I've read so will be pondering it for a few days before trying to write about it (and will go in search of a little criticism). Guidance is always welcome with writers like Woolf, though I am so glad I have finally had a chance to read her again. After reading Renate Adler, I was thinking that Virginia Woolf would be a cakewalk, but now I am not so sure.
Not to be thinking ahead, but thinking ahead--I have several new novellas to choose from when I finish the Woolf novel. I am leaning towards Jane Austen's Lady Susan, which I think I read a number of years ago (epistolary novel I seem to remember?). All of a sudden I am having this overwhelming desire to read classics. My eyes begin glazing over when I turn to my rather massive pile (they get the top shelf of a small bookcase in my bedroom) of unread classics. Oh the anticipation. I've done a poor job the last few years of classics-reading. Not that this year will be much of an improvement considering the year is swiftly approaching the halfway mark.
I've been reading Barbara Pym's Crampton Hodnet, which I think I am going to try and race to the finish before the end of the month (sheesh, just one more day? that may be wishful thinking). You know, I am really, really enjoying it. It makes me wonder why I waited so long to read another Pym novel (after her most excellent Excellent Women). The novel was published posthumously but was the first novel she wrote, and it seems I saw somewhere that it is listed as juvenilia? Interesting. So far it seems like it is in firm Pym territory--there is an elderly spinster, her companion, a handsome vicar who is trying to avoid romantic entanglements, a possible love affair between a young woman and an Oxford student, the young woman's parents are long-married--her mother having given up helping her husband with his book--for fear he will finish it! All totally delightful!
I have finally decided on a beach read. It won't be my sole beach read, but it is the first and a good one I've chosen, too. Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun. I read it years ago, though I couldn't for the life of me find my copy so had to go off and buy a new one. I have seen the film adaptation with Peter Ustinov numerous times, too. The film doesn't quite follow the book, but that's okay. I liked them both. I remember who the perpetrator is, so it won't be a surprise, but instead I will concentrate on "how" Christie pulls her story off and simply the pleasure of island life--all the little details, which I so enjoy in an Agatha Christie novel. It's a Hercule Poirot story by the way. Though I have been reading the Miss Marple's in order they were written, I have no qualms about reading the Poirot's in a haphazard fashion. This reminds me I need to pick up another Miss Marple soon. I love vintage crime novels. They just hit the spot.
One more find to share. I can't remember where I came across Constellation of Genius: 1922: Modernism Year One by Kevin Jackson, but it is a promising looking book. I just brought it home from the library, though I had to request it specially from interlibrary loan. It's a diary of sorts. It goes month by month through the year 1922.
"Ezra Pound referred to 1922 as Year One of a new era. It was the year that began with the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses and ended with the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land: respectively, the most influential English-language novel and poem of the century. To this day, these two works remain the titanic figures of modern literature—some would say, of modernity itself. And it was the indefatigable Pound who played a significant part in the launch of both writers’ careers."
"In Constellation of Genius, Kevin Jackson puts the accomplishments of Joyce and Eliot in the context of the world in which their works first appeared. We see the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the end of Dada, and the death of Proust. Meanwhile, Hollywood transformed the nature of fame, making Charlie Chaplin the most recognizable man on the planet. Hitchcock directed his first feature, Kandinsky and Klee joined the Bauhaus, and Louis Armstrong took the train from New Orleans to Chicago, heralding the start of modern jazz."
I've not read Joyce or Eliot (or Pound for that matter), but Virginia Woolf published Jacob's Room in 1922. How fitting is that? Doesn't the book sound good? Rather hefty but a fun way to get a taste of the world in 1922.
I'm actually reading lots of other really good books, too, but I think I'll save talking about them for another day. See, even without being able to concentrate I can yammer on about books!