My activity on this blog has devolved into pretty much reblogging things that I think would be of interest to the group, but I’m going to take a quick break from that. Additionally, I’m going to take a break from talking about what we read together, and talk about what I read when breaking from school work. I’ll focus here on the last three months or so, but in the interest of time, I’m only going to write a little about one book per post.
The Sportswriter — this is one of the two novels I’ve recently read that feels like a ‘proper’ novel, meaning that there is no pretense to hipness, no real attempt to capture our accelerating screwball reality that’s constituted by email, twitter, blogs, substance abuse, late capitalism (“whatever the fuck that is” — cf. The Ask), etc. It is slow, reflective, patient. Ever since listening to David Shields celebrate “revolutionary forms” at the MLA conference and reading his book Reality Hunger this summer, I’m finding myself even more drawn to work that tries to slow things back down to a human velocity. However, I must admit that I’m simultaneously drawn to his call for literature to capture more of reality. The Sportswriter does both: it’s about a middle-aged sportswriter (former novelist) who is fighting his own “dreaminess” — seeing the world through a haze rather than as it is — and reflecting on how the subjects of his writing — the athletes — have an amazing ability to understand the world literally, as it is, in its singularity, particularity, etc. Sure, he admits, the words they attribute to this reality are canned — “we gave it our best out there on the field today” — but their concerns and experiences are closer to reality than the narrator can get himself, in all his dreaminess. This book is the first in a trilogy, I believe, so I’m looking forward to seeing where he ends up as time passes.
Here are the others that I plan to post about some other time when I’m supposed to be working:
The Ask (Sam Lipsyte):
The Scientists (Marco Roth)
Open City (Teju Cole)
A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism (Peter Mountford)
n+1 (issue 15)
Freedom (Jonathan Franzen)
Leaving the Atocha Station (Ben Lerner)