Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Seasons Readings, Spring 2007

Not as much reading accomplished as I would have liked, but you know how that goes.

Continuing on the "Finally getting to the classics I know I should have read long ago" as my way of preparation for the California Single-Subject English Test (I passed, incidentally), I read:

William Golding, "The Inheritors" [Fantastic novel of neanderthal man - as visceral as "Lord of the Flies" with as much to say of civilization. I believe Mr. Golding has eclipsed James Dickey for my award of "Most Visceral Writer"]

Joseph Conrad "Lord Jim" [Good first and last thirds - the middle was tedious. I was expecting more insight into life at sea, but enjoyed it nonetheless.]

And then, since I was a little set with classics I should read, I picked up

Tom Robbins "Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas" [Another fantastic book by Robbins: hilarious, intelligent, rebellious. I envy his imagination through nearly every mad sentence.]

Ray Bradbury "The Illustrated Man" [Though I do like the occasional science fiction space opera, these eleven stories are literary science fiction that would not be out of place with your Margaret Atwood or Kurt Vonnegut]

And, on a lark, when I was substitute teaching one day during the last week before summer break (IE. I had nothing more strenuous to do than put a movie in the DVD player and make sure no one stole the yearbooks that hadn't been picked up yet), the teacher had a book on his desk whose cover looked interesting, so I read:

Brian Copeland "Not a Genuine Black Man: Or, How I Claimed My Piece of Ground in the Lily-White Suburbs" [I started out just browsing through this memoir, thinking if I enjoyed a couple pages I would put it on my list of books to pick up for a future classroom (so during any Silent Reading time students might have a choice of high interest books that may trick them into illuminating their worldview), then I realized that the childhood city the author was writing on was my childhood city of San Leandro. Reading further, I realized that the section of San Leandro he was discussing was not where I grew up, BUT was the neighborhood in which I was in right then, reading that book (The Manor); and, furthery-further in my reading, I realized that the apartment of his childhood, where he received such deplorable treatment, was not only on the very street of the middle-school in which I was at that second subbing, but was in the complex that was at that second being converted into condominiums, one of which we are in the process of purchasing.
Aside from the unexpected and enjoyed coincidences, the writing itself was entertaining, informative (I had never heard of the notorious racial issues he discusses in San Leandro, but then I grew up in a very different, infinitely more diverse area of the city), and heartfelt. And you've got to love his Grandma. Check him out at

Also, in preparation to read M. Allen Cunningham's "Lost Son" (which I'll pick up soon) I read,

Rainer Maria Rilke "Diary to a Young Poet" [Stephen Mitchell translation; which I discussed in a previous blog.] & "The Book of Images" [Edward Snow translation. My favorite poems include:
-"Girls II" [Played pretty well into my version of Modern Romanticism - of boys who hid volumes of poetry in their backpacks during high school who have arrived at college where their tastes are validated, so they can appear true before women.]
-"Childhood" [Do childhoods like the one expressed in this poem still exist outside of book pages? I see no proofs, and fear we are the worse for it.]
-"Human Beings at Night" [Frightening, while alluring]
-"The Neighbor" [Exquisite, and a distinct counterpart to Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being with its line, "Life is heavier than the weight of all things." I see in this relationship the pupil (Kundera) reaching that ultimate point in his progression when he transcends the ideas of his master. A necessary step?]
-"Pont du Carrousel" [The first Rilke poem where the imagery takes a Gaiman-esque tone. Very Neverwhere; I see the blind man before a world in fast-forward.]
-"The Voices" [A diamond of truth about literature]
-"The Blind Woman" [A poem play?! Also Gaiman-esque to me: Sandman could be The Stranger
-"The Son" & "The Ashanti" & "Fragments from Lost Days" & "Requiem" [Liked em, but don't have anything interesting to comment on them.]]

and finally, continuing through the series I began last season, I read:

Patrick O'Brian "Post Commander" & "H.M.S. Surprise" [More intensely entertaining historical nautical fiction from O'Brian]

That's it for this season. Have a happy Summer Reading Season!

1 comment:

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