Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Library and Reading

The NLB has recently doubled the lending quota to the public. This means you are now allowed to loan 16 books (or 8 books + 8 DVDs) instead of the usual 8.

This unfortunately put a dampener on my reading list, since part of the reason I have so many unfinished books is there's always many other books to read. And as I've mentioned it in an earlier blog: all books ultimately refer to other books.

Some of the titles I've borrowed in the last two weeks:

1. Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda
It's on my 100 Books to Read, so I'm not going to feel guilty about it. In the end, I find myself drawn to the few poems touched with loss. Still, my favourite in the collection remains Tonight I Can Write.

2. 100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda
What can I say, I got carried away on a Pablo Neruda wave. Apparently these are love poems to his wife.

3. Poems and Readings for Funerals selected by Julia Watson
The 70 poems and prose extracts range from Shakespeare to Chief Tecumseh of the Shawnee Nation. And of course it must include W. H. Auden's Funeral Blues - the poem John Hannah read in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Not all my friends will marry. Some may never fall in love. But they will all eventually die.

4. Gilgamesh a version by Stephen Mitchell
One more on my reading list.

5. Greene on Capri by Shirley Hazzard
Shirley Hazzard is one of those authors I will get to, if I ever get around to reading them. Hazzard and her husband were friends with the late Graham Greene; they met on the lovely island of Capri during the 1960s. Reminiscence of a mighty friendship:
'When friends die, one's own credentials change: one becomes a survivor. Graham Greene has already had biographers, one of whom has served him mightily. Yet I hope that there is room for the remembrance of a friend who knew him - not wisely, perhaps, but fairly well - on an island that was "not his kind of place," but where he came season after season, year after year & where he, too, will be subsumed into the capacious story.'
I love Graham Greene's writing. Will write more on him when I get around to The Quiet American.

6. The Final Solution by Michael Chabon.
It's a novella, so I figured it's going to be a quick read. Have read Chabon's The Wonder Boys and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I find that he's actually capable of being funny in the Wonder Boys, but he took a route down pathos in Kavalier and Clay.

Final Solution guest-stars a once-famous detective obsessed with bee-keeping. Into his life wanders Linus Steinman, nine years old and mute, who has escaped from Nazi Germany with his sole companion: an African grey parrot. Homage to a beloved literary figure. I hope Chabon does better than Caleb Carr did with The Italian Secretary.

7. Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
Now a movie starring Juliette Binoche and Richard Gere (who cares?).

Juliette Binoche plays a Jewish mother. Of a little girl who is a spelling bee. Little girl is not played by Dakota Fanning. Juliette Binoche is in this movie, so it's almost enough reason to watch. She has a delicate beauty about her, that when she comes on screen all you want to do is to look at her. And sigh.

Cut and paste from Amazon.com for the story:
Eliza Naumann, a seemingly unremarkable eleven-year-old, expects never to fit into her gifted family: her father, Saul, absorbed in his study of mysticism; her brother, Aaron, the vessel of his father's spiritual ambitions; and her brilliant but distant lawyer mother, Miriam. But when Eliza discovers an aptitude for competitive spelling, Saul takes it as a sign that she is destined for greatness. In this altered reality, Saul ushers her into his hallowed study and lavishes upon her the attention previously reserved for Aaron, who in his displacement embarks on a lone quest for spiritual fulfilment that leads him to the Hare Krishna. And when the unveiling of Miriam's secret life triggers an almighty explosion, it is Eliza who must order the chaos.

8. Nobody's Perfect: Writings From The New Yorker by Anthony Lane
I only picked this up after I read the introduction to it by Anthony Lane himself. He is hilarious in that British self-deprecating way.

9. Three Theban Plays: "Antigone","Oedipus the King","Oedipus at Colonus" translated by Robert Fagles & The Burial at Thebes translated by Seamus Heaney
Two versions of the plays by Sophocles. The one I'm currently looking into specifically is Antigone. In a nutshell, it's a story of civil disobedience; a woman whose conscience and duty supersedes the laws of the State. She dies at the end.

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