friday reading notes
The mailbox offered up a wonderful present yesterday…a book I ordered MONTHS ago which finally became available. Nadine Gordimer’s Telling Times, a collection (1954 – 2008) of her non-fiction writing about politics and literature. I absolutely cannot wait to get started. Just need to clear a few projects off of my desk and I’ll be able to focus almost exclusively on this.
I have narrowed my choices for my author read to three: Iris Murdoch, J. M. Coetzee and John Banville. Murdoch has 26 novels, Coetzee 12 and Banville 17. Coetzee would be the obvious choice, to be able to read one a month for 2011. But I’ve already ordered Murdoch’s first five novels and I have about seven Banville on the shelf waiting for me. I may just attempt the impossible and read all three writers. It means I wouldn’t really be reading anyone else in 2011 and that may drive me batty, but I so loved my complete Gordimer read, not just her books but the experience of reading them one after the other, that I’m inclined to attempt to recreate that reading mood.
In an attempt to catch up with my 10-year reading project I am immersed in Euripedes at the moment…Medea, Hippolytus, and The Trojan Women. I’ll be posting on these next week but let me just say here that being a woman (or an innocent child) in Ancient Greece was no party.
Am currently about halfway through Danielle Dufay’s Mon mariage chinois, a book which Smithereens brought to my attention (and then very kindly sent to me!). This is an interesting book, not only because of the style of the writing, which I found to be dense and formal (but in a good way), but also because of Dufay’s subject. The book is a collection of letters sent by Dufay’s grandmother Jeanne between 1922 and 1924 to her sister Laurence. Jeanne married a Chinese man in 1913 (an act which caused her to unknowingly lose her French citizenship), was separated from him by WWI and then went to China in 1922 to meet him again. Her letters begin on the boat from Marseille and are rich with images of the cities along the way to China and character portraits of the people traveling with her. Jeanne is going to China out of a sense of duty but she doesn’t love her husband and she has no idea what kind of life awaits her. Her impressions of the Hong Kong and China of the 1920s are fascinating. I’ll write more when I’ve finished.