Monday, August 07, 2006
Summer reading: from memoirs to margarine
Every summer I read as widely as possible. This summer, I read "Mountains Beyond Mountains'' by Tracy Kidder, (terrific, though it makes you feel like a heel for not helping other people as much as you should) "Candy Girl'' by Diablo Cody (a memoir by a stripper from the Midwest; a page-turner, funny, out-there and irreverent. She slathers on the similes like butter on a heel of sourdough bread, but then again, so do I. I love similes. ) "My Lives" by Edmund White (terrific, though parts of it shocked me so much that it made me feel prudish) a large chunk of "Remembrances of Things Past'' by Marcel Proust (sure, his writing, at times, is a tsunami of logorrhea (example of metaphor, not simile!) but his endless novel captures the beautiful misery of infatuation better than any other writer. The thing about Proust is, you have to read him secretly and in total darkness with a flashlight or else everyone will think you are pretentious. But it's safe to mention him on a blog that no one ever reads.) I also read a manual, from the middle-1950s, about margarine and butter production. It was one of those situations where you are at a library, bored, and you vow to go through a row of books and blindly pick one out and force yourself to read whatever you put your hand on. The book wasn't half bad but there was way too much "demographics of oleo consumption'' in the middle half. It mucked up the pace with statistics and bar graphs. Fortunately the book perked up again when the author started talking about butterfat ratios toward the end. The book has been in Butler library for 53 years --- and I was the first person on record to ever check it out!! They had to create a barcode just for me.