Tuesday, November 14, 2006

If I lived near Washington DC

I'd be going to this lecture series next February at the Smithsonian.

I have been a bad blogger, not posting in over a week, but I have been reading, and writing, and - mostly - conferencing, plus tonight I packed up 25 more review books for mailing, the last batch for next February's HNR. After spending all day Saturday in Springfield, then all day Sunday at work, my schedule's all messed up.

Then as I emerged from my week-long state of mental disorganization, I learned there's a new 1085-page historical novel out that everyone's talking about (except me, obviously, besides now) and that I'd never even heard of. Emails to Penguin Press will be sent tomorrow morning. The Amazon subject headings say it's literary fiction, not historical fiction, and I don't remember it from the catalog. My feeble excuses.

I'm glad I have most of next week off, so I can tackle my one remaining doorstop of a review book.


  1. Anonymous11:10 AM

    I hadn't heard about it, either, and it doesn't sound interesting to me. I don't want to decipher pretentious literary games. ;)

  2. I admit it, I've never read Pynchon and at this rate, with my reading time scheduled for the next couple months at least, I'm not likely to. But that Time Magazine piece was very funny.

  3. It didn't appeal to me either - I didn't even get to the end of the article! (Though I will probably go back and try again when I have more time - thanks for posting the link).

    Are there lots more review books stacked up after next week's doorstop, if your reading time is scheduled for the next couple of months? By the way, do you ever feel that the pressure of having a reading schedule takes some of the fun out of reading? I tried it once, but it made reading feel like a chore, so I scrapped the schedule.

  4. They're not so much review books as books I have to read for some other publishing-related reason. My next read-alike article will be on Edward Rutherfurd, so I have to get caught up on him - and you know how long his books are. Then I have to pick another couple newish books for my What We're Reading column in NoveList, due 12/1. If I find time, I may read one or two of the "orphaned" books (ones that didn't get picked by reviewers) from our last HNR distribution list.

    I just took a short break and read 3-4 books for fun, but now I have to get cracking again.

    There are times when I mind "reading on a schedule" - often I'd like to take more time with books than I have - but on the other hand, reviewing has turned me on to many authors/novels that would otherwise be languishing in the TBR pile. And comparatively speaking, most of the review books I've read have been good, in one way or another. They make up for the few tough slogs I've had to deal with.

  5. I read about Pynchon's new book in a library magazine a few weeks ago (I was waiting for my children to finish with Story Time and leafed through some new book publications while knitting). For a minute I thought I might read it, then decided I probably need to read Mason & Dixon first, as I have it and have been planning to read it for some time. I was a Pynchon fan when I was in my early 20's and loved reading his books. But now... well, that comment about him wearing a paper bag over his face in public - TWICE! - makes me think I might not find him so appealing anymore.

  6. I found the paper bag thing kind of amusing actually (wasn't that on the Simpsons?). Which of his novels would you recommend?

  7. The only one I re-read was The Crying of Lot 49 - for some reason I really enjoyed that one, and hung on to it for a number of years. Gravity's Rainbow and V. were one-timers for me, and not much enjoyed. (I think for social commentary and mirroring the times I prefer Tom Wolfe.) But I still plan to read Mason & Dixon.

  8. Anonymous7:38 AM

    Michiko Kakutani reviewed the new one for The New York Times today. She described it as a "humongous, bloated jigsaw puzzle of a story, pretentious without being provocative, elliptical without being illuminating, complicated without being rewardingly complex."

    I wonder if she liked the cover art.

  9. There isn't much that can be said about the cover art. Boring.

    I could use many of those words from the NYT review to describe the book I'm currently reading.

  10. More on Pynchon - this article from the Albany Times-Union is interesting. I don't know if it's because he's a "guy writer," but it's true, his novel wasn't even on my radar screen, and it should have been.