Saturday, August 06, 2005

Books on the nightstand

I'm starting to realize that I'm a better reader of blogs than writer of blogs. I am lazy. I have been reading a lot lately, though. Here are a few things I've finished or almost finished

Ravelstein by Saul Bellow
Great book. There is almost no plot, but Bellow's descriptions of Ravelstein are so compelling and interesting that I couldn't put this down. Ravelstein himself comes off as cultlike and larger-than-life, constantly spouting insights into the academic community and the unexamined life.

Yesterday's Perfume by Cherie Nutting with Paul Bowles
This is a large, coffee-table book mainly consisting of Nutting's photos of Bowles and scenery around Morocco. Her own story of her relationship with Bowles is interesting and a bit weird, but I'm a sucker for stories about the real-life Bowles. I got this for like $9 at Book People.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
This has pretty much been my everyday book for the past three weeks. I finished it last night. Jordan and I first heard about this book on NPR (The Diane Rheem Show) and I bought it because the author made it sound so cool. It's a little bit like The Da Vinci Code, except about Dracula, and it's written by a woman. I really respect Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and Kostova was emphasizing the literary aspects of her novel so I gave it a shot, and it's riveting, but it's not exactly literary. There is a lot about Ottoman history and the medieval rulers of what is now Romania and Hungary, but for anthropological details about agrarian vampire folklore, I much prefer Carlo Ginzburg and non-fiction. Still, it's a good novel. Kind of a weak ending, but it clips along at a nice pace up until the end.

Oh the Glory of it All by Sean Wilsey
This is a memoir blurbed by Dave Eggers and George Saunders, and Wilsey is a staple of the McSweeney's community over there in San Fran. The few snippets I read in the library seemed good enough so I checked it out. I'm still in the first third of this now and waiting to see if Wilsey's life is different or similar enough to hold my interest. Like Eggers he can slip into the too-self-indulgent pretty quickly.

1 comment:

ambrose mensch said...

I've wanted to read _Ravelstein_ since it came out, being somewhat of a 'Great Bookie' myself. Allan Bloom, the model for the protag, in some ways introduced me to the 'Great Books' approach to liberal education (though in hindsight I can see that an inexcusable defect of his _Closing of the American Mind_ is the way it proceeds as though Mortimer Adler and Robert M. Hutchins never wrote a stroke, both of whom were prolific on the subject before Bloom was in diapers (and the latter of whom was still President of University of Chicago while Bloom was there).