This and that

My legs are aching once again — I took a break from riding yesterday, but today Hobgoblin and I went on a very hilly 60-mile ride that has me beat. It was a beautiful day for it; when we left it was 65 and when we got back it was about 77, with mostly clear skies and not much wind. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that. And the countryside we rode through was beautiful. But oh those hills! I’m not very good at hill climbing, but I’m slowly getting better. I need to do more rides like this one, I suppose.

But on to books … I recently mooched a book that looks interesting; it’s Susan Ferrier’s 1818 novel Marriage. I read about it on some book blog — I forget which one; I’m always happy to find novels from that time period that I haven’t heard of before or know little about. This is what Amazon says about it:

Like her contemporaries, Maria Edgeworth and Jane Austen, Susan Ferrier adopts an ideal of rational domesticity, illustrating the virtues of a reasonable heroine who learns act for herself. By giving her novel a Scottish heroine who leaves her domestic haven in the Highlands to brave the perils of faraway London, Ferrier reversed the usual trajectory of the female coming-of-age fiction. Challenging the conventions of romance narrative, the novel also serves to expose English prejudice towards the Scots as itself a form of provincialism.

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

I haven’t bought that many books lately — I’ve been trying to be good, and partly succeeding — but yesterday the Hobgoblin and I walked past two of the used bookstores in town on our way home from dinner and couldn’t resist checking them out. What nicer thing is there to do on a Friday evening than wandering in used bookstores on the way home from dinner? I was good and only came home with one book, Alison Lurie’s Foreign Affairs. This will be a comfort read if I need it at some point this summer. I read Lurie for the first time last year and knew then that I’d be reading more of her books — she’s just the kind of writer I like.

While I’m continuing to feel ambivalent about Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer (I’m enjoying it enough to read it pretty quickly — I’m now over 2/3 of the way done — but it feels uneven; sometimes I’ll come across a great anecdote or the perfect example, but at other times I’m irritated at the length of the passages she discusses and the brevity of some of her comments on them), I am finding a number of books she discusses that I’d like to read. Chief on my mind is Henry Green — has anyone out there read him before? She discusses his novel Loving as an example of a novel with particularly well-done dialogue:

How can we possibly choose the passage that best illustrates the subtlety, the depth, the originality and complexity with which Green uses conversation to create character and to tell the mininally dramatic, low-key story that, thanks to the dialogue, seems positively riveting?

That’s my kind of story: minimally dramatic but riveting. Prose is also making me happy that I have some Denis Johnson on my shelves; I’ve got his collection of stories Jesus’ Son, which I may begin soon.

Now I need to go read Don Quixote. I hope to write a post on it soon.

6 Comments

Filed under Books, Cycling, Reading

6 responses to “This and that

  1. I read one Alison Lurie book, Women & Ghosts, which I quite liked and I don’t tend to read a lot of short stories. I must have about 4 other Lurie books waiting in the stacks now. Enjoy your new book and DQ!

  2. Marriage sounds great (the book, I mean, not the institution, although my experience with the institution has been great)! And I can’t think of anything better than browsing in bookshops walking home from dinner.

  3. Ooh Henry Green – I’ve been meaning to read something by him for years, but I suspect him of being heavy in ways I don’t want him to be, and sparse in others. But remember this is a great Litlove before-I’ve-ever-read-it comment, and therefore not to be trusted!

  4. Thanks Iliana, I’m sure I will! Emily — it was quite a nice evening, and it’s cool that you can picture exactly what I’m talking about! Litlove, intriguing! One of these days we’ll both get around to reading him, and then we’ll have to compare notes …

  5. Marraige does sound like a good book. And my legs ache just hearing about your hilly ride.

  6. I have been bad about buying books, but then that is no surprise. I wish I could show more restraint. I will for a while, but then when I break down and buy books, it is usually pretty bad! I bought one of Henry Green’s books (I think it actually has two of his novels) some time ago when I was trying to read from the Modern Library list. I haven’t been doing very well with that either. The Ferrier book sounds interesting–I look forward to hearing about that one!

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