11 hours ago
Monday, February 16, 2009
What My Wife is Reading
My wife is an intelligent, voracious, relentless and unmerciful reader, devouring dozens of books a month in her quest to calm her brain after taking a beating from her dissertation, planning classes and marking essays. As a PhD student, she is no stranger to literary criticism. However, she is a lazy blogger. She will admit as much. I have taken it upon myself to report her reading habits, her likes and dislikes, her thumbs up/thumbs down. I will observe the books she is currently reading, which, somehow, is often four or five books at a time, and ask her questions as she progresses. Sometimes, a book will fall by the wayside – most times she will give a book a very short time to impress her. If it does not, back on the shelf it goes. As I said, unmerciful. She is insightful and often ties together two disparate themes I would not guess to be in the same ballpark (did I mention how much I love and respect my wife?). However, she is unrelenting in her criticism of an unremarkable read. I will be a faithful journalist in this series, reporting only her own thoughts and impressions of the books she reads, inserting my own opinions only as a contrast or to build context. I will begin by listing, Nick Hornby style, books started and books read, and I will pull no punches when it comes to an unfavorable review. If a book sucks, I want to know why. I’m planning for this to be a weekly post, starting with this one. I’ll call it “What My Wife is Reading.”
Books started: Watchmen, The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, 2666, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Books read: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
This week my wife started reading a few books, and by all indications 2666 by Roberto Bolano will be an ongoing project. It is, after all, five volumes. The posthumous work of the Chilean author is reportedly a master work of 21st century fiction, described by one critic as “a novel of stupefying ambition with a mock-documentary element at its core” and is Time magazine’s Best Book of 2008. It might be on this list for a few weeks to come. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons is interesting and intense, and her only complaint right now is that it is too big to read in bed comfortably. But she must be close to finishing, and so I will report further next time. The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon was brought into the house after I saw it on Entertainment Weekly’s Top 100 New Classics (it’s #53). So far it’s funny and interesting and I feel that we will explore the rest of Michael Chabon’s works in time. The only book actually finished in the past week, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, the basis for the classic film Blade Runner, got a favorable response: “I liked it” (I can see that I will have to encourage my wife for more engaging descriptions in the future). All the books on this list are connected only in that they are quite different from each other, and that both my wife and I will probably read them. Next week, I expect that my wife will finish 2/3 of the remaining list and start a couple of new ones. And I’ll tell you what she thought.