I’d meant to write about Virginia Woolf’s collection of short stories Monday or Tuesday, but that isn’t happening this evening. On the subject of Virginia Woolf, however, I’m going to see a staged reading of Edna O’Brien’s play Virginia at The Drama Bookshop, performed by the Shakespeare’s Sister Company. The play “encompasses Virginia Woolf’s mercurial inner life, as well as the relationships of her three great loves: her husband, Leonard; her lover, Vita and her greatest writings. Ms. O’Brien touches the heart and captures the essence of Virginia’s character and brilliant mind.” Fellow blogger Fernham will be there giving a brief talk about Woolf.
And that’s not all — next weekend I’m going to see a performance of Woolf’s own play, Freshwater. Until recently, I didn’t even know she had written a play. It’s a comedy about Woolf’s aunt, Julia Cameron, a photographer. I don’t usually connect Woolf with comedy, so it will be interesting to see what it is like.
And what else is going on in my reading world? I recently finished Elizabeth Hardwick’s collection of essays Seduction and Betrayal; it’s a very enjoyable book that makes me wish more literary criticism were written as well as Hardwick writes it. I’ve also finished Jeanette Winterson’s Sexing the Cherry, the Slaves of Golconda group read for January. It’s a very short book (160 pages in my edition), so you have time to join us if you would like. And now I’m reading another Jeanette — Jeanette Walls’s The Glass Castle, for one of my in-person book groups. So far it’s a very good read, rather harrowing in an un-put-downable way. It’s a memoir of Walls’s childhood; normally I wouldn’t go in for that sort of book, but Walls’s story is captivating.
But there’s more … I’m still plugging away at William Gaddis’s The Recognitions; in fact, I’m approaching the halfway point in the book (it’s about 950 pages). I’m not finding the middle sections as captivating as I found the beginning, but there is still much to enjoy and ponder. There are moments of confusion, too, I’ll admit — it’s a challenging read — but I can generally understand what I need to to keep going. I’ve also begun reading Montaigne’s essays as part of my ongoing essay project (the idea being to read as many essays as I can). Montaigne is such a wonderful reading companion; he’s even interesting when he’s writing about battles and ancient history, two subjects that don’t generally interest me all that much. But he is most fun when he is writing about himself, and I think he begins to do this more and more as the book goes on. I have a lot to look forward to.
Finally, I’m slowly making my way through Wallace Stevens’s poetry collection Harmonium (I have the collected poems, but am only reading the first part of it, for now). Stevens is an odd poet. I didn’t realize that when I was familiar only with his most famous poems, but reading deeper into his work, I’m coming across lots of unusual vocabulary and strange images; I have had the experience over and over again of reading a poem and thinking it’s utterly bizarre, and then re-reading it multiple times and realizing that it’s beautiful in its strangeness.
The reason I’m a bit too tired to write a proper review this evening is that I spent the afternoon shopping — clothes shopping. This is highly unusual. I love book shopping, but any other kind leaves me feeling weary and miserable. But I really, really need some new clothes and my birthday is coming up, so Hobgoblin arranged for the clothing-shopping expert at Musings From the Sofa to take me on a shopping spree. If you hate clothes shopping as much I do, this is a great way to fill out the wardrobe a little bit; it’s so much better shopping with someone who can tell you what colors and styles work for you and can give you ideas and take you straight to the right shops. I came home with some nice new things — and, very importantly, a promise that we can do it again.