Recent Reading

A short post to tell you what I’m reading before I dive back into my books:

  • Gravity’s Rainbow. Yeah. Sometimes I feel like I’m “reading” it. I get it in sections, and then in others, I’m lost. Mostly, I get or eventually get what’s going on in small scenes, but the larger picture is hard to put together. If you asked me to summarize what it’s about, I would say something about World War II, rockets, psychic phenomena, paranoia, and then I’d trail off. I’m reading it very slowly, maybe 10-20 pages at a time, and I’m mostly enjoying the challenge. I don’t mind not really getting it as long as I’m not the only one, which I’m quite sure is the case.
  • Jane Carlyle’s letters in I Too Am Here. These continue to be a delight. The letters are organized not chronologically, but by subject, which means you get to read about a particular aspect in some depth, but you don’t get as strong a sense of the sweep of her life. This is fine by me, as learning about her biography wasn’t my reason for picking up the book. I just finished a section on Jane’s letters about her servants, which were fascinating. Let’s just say that Jane strongly felt she had a servant problem.
  • David Markson’s Epitaph for a Tramp, soon to be followed by Epitaph for a Dead Beat. I’ve read one of Markson’s experimental novels, Wittgenstein’s Mistress, and so I was curious to see if his detective novels were similar at all. They are not. They are straightforward hardboiled detective novels, and are tremendous fun. The writing is witty and amusing, and it’s clear that Markson was having fun with the genre.

11 Comments

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11 responses to “Recent Reading

  1. You’re not the only one lost with “Gravity’s Rainbow.” I think it’s kind of funny, in a juvenile way. Rockets start falling every time Slothrop gets an erection! Yeah, the phallic imagery isn’t subtle, but it makes me chuckle when I think about it.

  2. SFP

    I had no idea David Markson wrote detective novels. I wonder if a great many experimental writers started out writing genre first.

  3. Ha, Brandon’s comment made me laugh. Gravity’s Rainbow is the book that’s been on my TBR shelf the longest without getting read, and I feel I should probably remedy that before too long. Am really not in the mood for the uber-male, in-love-with-penises thing right now, though, so guess it’ll wait a little while longer.

  4. Mr W

    Sounds like you’re getting Gravity’s Rainbow just fine :-)

  5. I had no idea that Markson had written straigh fiction – I’d love to read that (if I can get hold of it over here). And an interesting idea to group the letters by subject matter – you lose the possibility of a plotline through time, but gain an indepth understanding of the writer, I imagine!

  6. verbivore

    Well, I admire your diligence with Gravity’s Rainbow. I got about 50 pages in and stopped. It wasn’t that I disliked it, but I just couldn’t pick up a thread to keep me going. I suspect I need to know that going in and then just keep working at it….so someday, I’ll read it again.

  7. I absolutely love those two Markson detective novels. He also wrote a hilariously funny Western, The Ballad of Dingus Magee. I do read mysteries and I don’t read Westerns, but I thought all three were wonderful.

  8. I am keeping careful notes of your reading of Gravity’s Rainbow so when I finally get around to reading it myself I will have something to hang on to! I had no idea Markson wrote detective novels. I will definitely have to give them a try I so enjoyed Reader’s Block.

  9. You get a gold star in my book for sticking with Gravity’s Rainbow! Keep us posted on the progress.

  10. Is the detective fiction experimental, too? I thought it sounded interesting when you mentioned it in a comment. I need to add him to my list of authors to try.

  11. Gravity’s Rainbow made me wanna smack myself in the face. Again, and again, and again.

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