Wednesday, April 02, 2008

the daunting stack

Almost a year ago, I waxed in glum disarray about needing to rekindle the reading habit. The library hauls have resumed over the last several months as has the effort to actually read some of those books I snagged in book sales. Although those pesky addictive DVDs still show up in the lists, I've been able to sample a few interesting books, been unable to get through a few before they were due back on the shelves and been able to slap the back cover shut in triumph on a few. The mixed bag has featured clusters by writers who have been favourites:

* Neil Gaiman: Fragile Things: Short Stories and Wonders, Smoke and Mirrors

* Jonathan Lethem: You Don't Love Me Yet [in a strange coincidence, the stash bearing this book also featured the Criterion release of the Preston Sturges gem Unfaithfully Yours containing an essay by Jonathan Lethem

* Shashi Tharoor: Bookless in Baghdad, The Elephant, The Tiger And The Cell Phone -- both unfinished for want of time

* Kurt Vonnegut: Breakfast Of Champions, Cat's Cradle

There were books that had languished long on the "Must read this some day" list:
* Love And Longing In Bombay by Vikram Chandra (please pray for me as I embark upon the mission of trying to get through Sacred Games, the large tome dedicated to Sartaj Singh.

* Hard-Boiled by Frank Miller and Geoff Darrow with its excrutiatingly detailed art and its seductively horrifying exploration of a world ridden with vice

* Kafka Americana where Jonathan Lethem (yes, him again) and Carter Scholz collaborated in solo and duet with a post-post-modern, reflexive set of tales laced with pop culture that presented Kafka as (among other things) the creator of Batman and as a Hollywood screenwriter. This is so much more fun that it sounds like. Then we had the Dennis Hopper biography, the engrossing Bernard Herrmann biography A Heart At Fire's Centre and Sprawl City: Race, politics, and planning in Atlanta by Robert Bullard.

The ones that never got done included

* An Infinite Summer by Christopher Priest: I only managed to read one of the tales, Whores, which offered a delirious experience in synaesthesia (as the train clattered through the devastated towns and countryside, I seemed to taste the music of pain, feel the gay dancing colours of sound)

* Dreaming In Code by Scott Rosenberg

* Samuel Fuller's delightful memoir A Third Face.

Time to get back to Reading Comics and Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons.

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