Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What I'm Reading Wednesdays: July 13

Contributing to the What I'm Reading Wednesdays blog:

What I just finished reading: I had a delightful time reading "The Wicked Pavilion" by Dawn Powell. This novel was the second I had read by her; I read "The Locusts Have No King" back in the 1990s. This one was less focused but a great deal more fun. Powell tracks the comings and goings of habitues at a Village restaurant named the Cafe Julien in the early 1950s; the large cast of characters (for a novel of fewer than 300 pages) include a bearded, broke, aging artist; an up-and-coming businessman who obsesses over a woman he met there; a tall single matron of a Boston family living the bohemian life in NYC; and a party girl mistaken for a prostitute. The novel goes in many unexpected directions (including Tottenville) and provides a great deal of laughter and pathos; nobody is taken very seriously, and the novel's overall tone is frothy, even as dark clouds hover over the characters.

What I'm reading now: I've finally begun "Sunnyside," the historical novel by Glen David Gold, author of Carter Beats the Devil. I bought it when it first came out, but I haven't gotten around to it. So far, the large canvas is pleasing indeed; the novel is set during World War I and promises to take us from Crescent City, Calif., to Russia. Right now, Charlie Chaplin is founding his studio. This will be book three in my six-book Chunkster reading challenge as well as a book I promised to read off my shelf.

What I think I'll read next: I was going to read "A Moment in the Sun" by John Sayles, a 950-page opus set a few years before "Sunnyside"; if I read 50 pages a day, I could finish it in 20 days (assuming I can renew it from the library). Instead, I might read the Ice trilogy by Vladimir Sorokin or one of the clear-my-shelf novels -- "Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen or The Yiddish Policeman's Union" by Michael Chabon.

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