December 22, 2010

About reading

I like it when one thing leads to another. For example, Lorna Sage’s Moments of Truth, which was recommended to me by a friend, reminded me of Angela Carter. I have a couple of her books from the eighties, so I reread the collection of her reviews, Expletives Deleted.  Here's a great sentence about American folktale collector Henry Glassie of whom I had  not previously heard: “He is grievously afflicted with fine writing.”

I’ve also got her book The Sadeian Woman which I remember being bewildered by back then. I know more about the surrealists now, who Carter was interested in/ influenced by. Until, that is, as she says in Expletives Deleted,

… I realised that surrealist art did not recognise I had my own rights to liberty and love and vision as an autonomous being, not as a projected image, [so] I got bored and wandered away.

Another connection is with the novel-known-as-Ann where the idea of folktales comes up and it is useful to be reminded of Carter’s interest in them.  While I didn’t know all of the writers she reviewed, I enjoyed Carter’s writing so much I’ve put her on my list of novelists to seek out at the Wellington Public Library.

 Some time ago I became aware of recurring mentions of the essays of Montaigne. I’ve forgotten where, but I picked up an Everyman edition of them in three volumes from a second-hand bookshop and have delved in here and there. Then I noticed reviews of a book by Sarah Bakewell, How To Live, or A Life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer. Thanks to my good friend, the Wellington Public Library, I have a copy to read over the holidays. Three chapters in and I’m fascinated.

One of Montaigne's answers to the question, "How to live?" is, "Read a lot, forget most of what you read and be slow witted." I haven't read that chapter in Bakewell's book yet, but I think I'll like it.

My other reading just now is Peter Hessler’s Country Driving, his latest about China. More on that when I’ve read more. And then there’s Barbara Kingsolver’s Lacuna  to re-read for our January reading group session.

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