Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What I'm Reading Wednesdays: Aug. 17

For the WWW weekly book meme:

What I've read: "The Art of Fielding" by Chad Harbach. This book is a guy book. Guys will love this book. The novel is about baseball and small colleges; being a father; being a lover; and throwing to first. It's 500 pages, but it feels like 300. A young shortstop named Henry, who has a perfect fielding record at shortstop, gets recruited to a small Wisconsin college by Schwartz, a born leader who is the team's catcher. But when Henry accidentally hits his roommate in the face with an errant throw, things begin to fall apart. Meanwhile, the president of the college, a Melville scholar, finds he has fallen in love with one of the students, even as his daughter returns from a horrible marriage. The character names are hilarious, the novel is filled with references to "Moby-Dick," and it even has snide references to Amherst. College and baseball: What more could you want?

"Farewell My Lovely" by Raymond Chandler: I listened to his in my car; Elliott Gould performs on the audiobook. I had been curious about Chandler, even though when I was in seventh grade I had read "The Maltese Falcon" by Dashiell Hammett and hadn't liked it. I've read several novels set in Los Angeles, however, so I decided to try this one through the relatively painless medium of the car stereo. The book is hilarious -- Chandler has a way of twisting similes and metaphors until they scream. And Philip Marlowe is incredibly sarcastic. I also liked the way Chandler purposely withholds Marlowe's thoughts until the end -- it's as if Marlowe himself is holding back on us, just as he holds back on the police and everyone he doesn't trust. The mystery itself is easily guessable, but how Marlowe solves it isn't -- and all sorts of existential questions hang around the edges (just like in real literature!). Of course, this is real literature at its most American, and you can almost hear the influence it had on Updike's metaphors (that is, if Updike read Raymond Chandler). I'm going to read "The Long Goodbye" later, then watch the Robert Altman movie.

What I'm Reading: "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman. Grossman's narrative is exciting and inventive, even as it references a whole series of fantasy books, particularly "Lord of the Rings," "Narnia" and Harry Potter. I'm reading this now so I can read the sequel, "The Magician King," soon.

What I'm Planning to Read: I'll probably try to finish "My Life, the Theatre and Other Tragedies," then read "Zone One" so I can get those off my Amazon Vine review list.


LibrarySnake said...

I've read The Magicians, it is interesting, although, overall,in my opinion not the best of its genre.

Here's mine:

The Well Read Fish said...

I agree - didn't love The Magicians like most people.

Here's my latest:

Anonymous said...

I'm feeling rather un-literary; none of those are familiar titles to me. Off to check them out on goodreads... :)

Happy WWW!