A person gains attention on the internet mainly by talking about themselves. To that end: here are the books I read this week, and how I feel about them. Why would you be interested in this? I have absolutely no idea.
Last Week I Read:
Stoner by John Williams: First of all, can we talk about the goddamned New York Review of Books Classics? Can we please talk about the goddamned New York Review of Books Classics? We can? Great. These things are just fantastic, whomever is in charge of putting this collection together has done an immense good service to the reading public. I've been basically just buying any one of these that crosses my path in the last six months or so and they've all been great, virtually across the board, lesser known writers who's lack of fame is in no way related to the excellence of their works. God bless those guys/gals. Good stuff.
Right, where were we? Our eponymous hero, Stoner, is the son of Missouri dirt farmers who becomes a professor of English and then dies. Spoiler Alert. It's not exactly action packed, but it's beautiful and erudite and terribly sad, sad because the world is often kind of a sad place, even for people for whom nothing very bad happens, the quiet weight of day to day existence is often a heavy one and the book is a rare celebration of the strength required of all of us to carry it. I thought it was really lovely and I'd recommend it broadly. Were there sword fights: No. Not a lot really happens, like I said. But maybe still don't let that discourage you.
The Duke of Wellington's Military Dispatches by Arthur Wellesley collected by Charles Esdaile: I really have no idea what possessed me to read this, it was just entirely beyond my ken. I also have no idea how to review it—this is indeed the collected dispatches of Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington, detailing various aspects of his Penninsular campaigns and Waterloo. It is of essentially no interest to anyone not a narrow specialist in the field, like very narrow, like which division went where on what day, which I am not at all. So, it was kind of a slog, and also for some reason I refused to stop reading it, and so most of my week reading-wise was eaten up by this. That's not it's fault though, really. Anyhow. Were there sword fights: God, I would have killed for a sword fight just to break up the monotony. But no, there were not really any sword fights.
Call for the Dead by John le Carré: After the last two books I really needed to read a book in which something happens. Of course the joke with le Carré is that lots of things tend to happen but always in the grayest sort of ways. I really enjoy le Carré, although sometimes he gets a bit too 'it was a rainy day in London and the sky was gray and there was mud everywhere and people's clothes were very drab and the steak was burnt and the tea was weak...' But then again any distinct voice carries the capacity for self-parody. Anyhow this is really burying the lede, I quite liked it, Smiley's first appearance though in a slightly different form than he would appear in the better developed Karla series. It's John le Carré's first book and you can definitely tell that, the theme's haven't quite asserted itself, there is some physical combat (which there virtually never is in the later stuff although I admit I enjoyed it, especially after the last two books I'd read) and it's all not quite as tight as some of the later stuff, but it's also a fiercely-paced 150 pages and a ton of fun. Strong recommendation. Were there sword fights: No but there are shootings and bludgeonings and generally action and that was enough.
Right Now I Am Reading:
Last Call by Tim Powers: And it's great.