Belatedly: November’s Reading

 

I’m on Christmas break now, so I can finally get around to recapping the (brief) reading month of November. December is going to pick up a bit, once I finish re-reading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (hard to believe I read them the first and only time nine years ago, just before Return of the King was released in theaters!).

Mr. Wroe’s Virgins by Jane Rogers. Okay, so I read this book in September, but after presenting on it and writing about it, I feel really prepared to discuss it. Also, I may have forgotten to recap it in September. This is a historical novel written from the perspective of four women living in Prophet John Wroe’s household. John Wroe, an actual historical figure, is the leader of the Christian Israelites in 1830s England, and he has asked for seven virgins to live in his household and run it. Naturally, nothing is as good as it seems.

I’m particularly compelled by the story of Joanna, the woman who is an ardent believer and follower. Even though she can be seen as Dostoevsky’s “Holy Fool,” I find her all-consuming faith to be heartbreaking, inspiring, and ultimately challenging. Basically: if you like multi-layered women’s narratives and/or historical fiction, you’ll love this book (think The Poisonwood Bible meets Bring up the Bodies).

Transmetropolitan, Vol 2: Lust for Life by Warren Ellis. I’m liking this crazy series more and more. Spider Jerusalem is (again) a total crank, but good at journalism–and getting himself out of a tight hole.

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. I’m disappointed we didn’t discuss this in my class more. I ended up reading it in a bit of a hurry, and so I didn’t get the chance to savor the text more. It’s a very image-driven perspective of recovery, ceremony, and tradition. Silko’s prose is both dense and vibrant, and I definitely want to read more.

The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis. I’m not quite sure what to do with this book. Basically, Amis is taking a look backward at the sexual revolution in the 60s and 70s, especially with Brits living in Europe. The moves backwards and forwards in time make it sometimes hard to follow, but it’s very postmodern that way.

Sweet Tooth by  Ian McEwan. If you know me in real life, or if you have read my blog, then you all know how I feel about this man:

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Needless to say, I’ve been giddily/nervously waiting over Sweet Tooth for months. Literally. I put myself on the library’s waitlist four-five months ago. And waited. Thankfully, my library purchased a few copies, and I got to be the FIRST to check out my library’s particular copy. Awesome. And then, over Thanksgiving Break, I greedily devoured it.

Greedily. It’s a great read. It’s profoundly meta-fictive, able to reflect on a literary past and stand in a present moment. The allusions to literature of the 1970s, the MI-5 culture, and to a particular director, are enjoyable, especially if you are “in the know.” The main characters are human, but endearingly so. If you’ve read the McEwan canon, you will find allusions to many of his early works (I w on’t name them, simply because I don’t want to spoil the in-jokes for you), as well as cameos by some pretty famous contempo Brits (my friend Martin Amis gets a shout-out!). The ending, to me, is clever, right, and satisfying.  As a reader and postmodern scholar, I felt a shivery, joyful chill: just as in Jazz, when you figure out who the narrator is, it’s deeply fulfilling to put all the pieces together at the end. For me, the ending makes an already compelling read totally awesome.

*Note: for me, Sweet Tooth would have to be in my top three (next only to Saturday and Atonement, of course–and the top five would be rounded out by Amsterdam and Enduring Love) of all McEwan’s works that I’ve read so far.

 

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1 Comment

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One response to “Belatedly: November’s Reading

  1. Erin

    I do have to agree with you about Sweet Tooth. So satisfying! But also very different than Atonement and Saturday. I wasn’t sure that I liked it at first, but the prose is so easy to read that I finished it in a few days and immensely enjoyed it.

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