Posts Categorized: Books

Review: The Boatmaker

In John Benditt‘s, The Boatmaker, I experienced a push-pull effect as the novel brought me in, then pushed me to the point where I almost quit reading it before it pulled me back completely. I enjoyed the novel; even more so for its ability to win me back as a reader.

Moby Dick. Ugh.

I started reading Moby Dick in June and began renovating our house in July. Sadly, I finished Moby Dick first. For some people, I’m sure me disliking Moby Dick is similar to a person giving the Grand Canyon a one-star review on Yelp.

The first 200-400 pages were funny and enjoyable. The 3000 page Wikipedia article on whaling put me to sleep, much like the characters in Bone. The final 50 pages are worth reading, but could still be condensed.

And so, I have defeated Moby Dick and am still alive to tell the tale. I can’t wait to read something else. Suggestions?

mobydickbone

On page 86 of An Unnecessary Woman. It’s so deliberate. Slow. A long conversation sitting in someone’s apartment. A love letter to literature. A remembrance of what a life in books costs.

Books As Technology: IKEA vs Monks

IKEA created a clever ad comparing their catalog, the bookbook, (book technology) to that of a tablet / e-book. While this advertisement is funny, it’s even funnier when juxtaposed with this video of a medieval “help desk” as users make the shift from scrolls to books. What is this technology you call the book?

 

A reply on Twitter brought this video to my attention this morning.

Summer Reading 2014

In no apparent order, here are some books I’m planning to read this summer. Please comment below if you have some suggestions.

The Flamethrowers
The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner (read)


Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball

Scorch Atlas by Blake Butler

The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert


The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (read)


Galatea 2.2 by Richard Powers (read)


Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan


Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks


Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion


Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov


A Mercy by Toni Morrison

A Few Thoughts on Maps, Graphs, Trees

Just finished reading Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History by Franco Moretti. As a writer, I found Moretti’s perspective to be refreshing. He’s not deconstructing literature. He’s not parsing literature through individual perspectives and casting a kaleidoscope of meaning upon the wall. Instead, Moretti includes the 99% of the canon which is overlooked and aims to discover patterns through distance.

One part, in the section Trees, focused on detective fiction and the use of clues as a literary device. Invoking Darwin, Moretti classifies works through traits which are present or absent. In this example, the traits are clues and Moretti clusters works in which clues are absent; evoked; symptoms (medical); present, but not necessary; visible, but not decodable; and decodable. By looking at these trees over time, Moretti makes the argument for how the genre of detective fiction came to resemble a genre. Writers try, experiment, fail or succeed, and refine the process. As Arthur Conan Doyle competed for readers with other writers during the time period, he had the most success. Was it due to Sherlock Holmes or was it due to his ability to more readily recognize and adapt to his readers and the genre?

If our own time were analysed, how would zombie fiction or supernatural love stories look? Are writers in those genres paring down the process to what sells? What about the genre of literary fiction? Has enough time passed that we can hone in on the patterns? How would you approach literary fiction in this way?