Postcard: Salt Lake City 7/28/2020
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I try to read twice as much as I write. That doesn't always work out.
I spent six years in a PhD program for French literature. Some of what I read was strange and some was dreadful. A lot was challenging. Most of it was fascinating. Here are some of my favorite books from those years.
- Perceval, ChrĂ©tien de Troyes. Note to self: if a guy walks through the house with a bleeding lance, ask someone what's going on.
- Le quart livre, FranĂ§ois Rabelais. Among other things, a fat flying pig shits mustard over an army of sausages. Love it or leave it.
- La vie de Marianne, Pierre Marivaux. Style so perfect - or precious - that le marivaudage was coined to mean "light, seductive, gallant language."
- SalammbĂ´, Gustave Flaubert. Taking the city via the aqueduct - and the battles! They didn't make a graphic novel out of L'Ă©ducation sentimentale, I can tell you that.
- Le balcon, Jean Genet. This brilliant play is like Jaws: it's most interesting when we don't see the shark.
There are many English language books - classics and contemporaries - that I "should have read" but haven't. I will never get around to them. My knowledge of Shakespeare is meager. I've read no Whitman or Yeats, nothing by Toni Morrison. Etc, etc, etc. Sometimes it embarrasses me.
Travel writing is easily my favorite genre.
There are many English language books - classics and contemporaries - that I "should have read" but haven't. I will never get around to them... Sometimes it embarrasses me.
In grade school, Miroslav Ĺ aĹˇek's "This Is" series enthralled me, in particular, This is New York, ...San Francisco, ...Rome, and ...London.
Later, I read Kon-Tiki, which I found fascinating and scary. It was all the sharks they pulled onto the deck of the raft. And the whale shark, of course.
As an adult, the first travel book I remember picking up for pleasure was in late 1991, Keath Fraser's anthology Bad Trips.
Since then, I've read hundreds more. I'm currently working my way through the travel section of the Westerville Public Library, an award-winning institution in my hometown. Soon I will be writing book reviews of my progress.
And now I'm writing my own travel book, Backseat Cities.
I also read historical novels, spy novels, and some police procedurals (mostly Wetering and Simenon) as well as history, biographies, and intelligence community memoirs.
Recently I have enjoyed:
- Grant, Ron Chernow. Definitive. Grant was almost certainly not drunk all the time.
- Waterloo, Bernard Cornwell. At the very end, Napoleon still could have won the battle, but a final unclear message sealed his fate.
- A Hologram for the King, Dave Eggers. Content was good, form was perfect. Every single sentence was butter.
- A Woman of No Importance, Sonia Purcell. Virginia Hall was an amazing woman and tremendous spy.
- The Big Burn, Timothy Egan. Some incredible scenes about a horrifying fire. Starts enthralling, then peters out a little. Still worth it.
- Good Kids, Bad City, Kyle Swenson. A crazy story. This is exactly why we should abolish the death penalty.
Note to self: if a guy walks through the house with a bleeding lance, ask why.
Newspapers and Magazines
My subscriptions, FWIW:
Two Shelves, One Book 7/21/2020
Stop Fetishizing Locals 7/7/2020
The Bourdain Paradox 6/30/2020
ClichĂ© Interview Question 6/23/2020
Corsican Ordeal (II) 6/16/2020
Corsican Ordeal (I) 6/16/2020
Planning Itineraries 6/9/2020
Five Stores and a Month 6/2/2020
My Stan Lee Story 5/26/2020