Sunday, November 1, 2009

7,000 words . . . and then some

that title, you'll see, refers to the 7 pictures, presumably worth 1000 words each . . .
So it's three weeks or so since I last wrote here. Thanksgiving weekend, I burrowed my way through the Jeffery Deaver mystery The Bodies Left Behind, while I wasn't serving turkey, washing dishes, making pumpkin pie, or marking papers. Satisfying if not especially memorable, lots of tension and all the plot twists we expect from the author. No Lincoln Rhyme, but a very resourceful female character I quite liked.And sometime in October I also read George Pelecanos' The Night Gardener. Again, satisfying if not especially memorable. Pelecanos wrote and produced for The Wire, and I suppose I picked this book up hoping for an extension of that experience. Not a fair way to approach a new writer and it probably contributed to my ho-hum response -- I was looking for more of the series' density and complexity, and this book didn't give me that. I'd definitely read something else by him, however, but I'd probably wait to pay paperback rather than trade paperback format price.
Meanwhile, you might remember these books, from this post. I'm still waiting to read the Martha Grimes novels.And to read these, recent arrivals from Chapters.

I have been reading which can make me a somewhat tiresome companion for Pater, whom I try to convince of everything that is terribly wrong with this world, in this case a frighteningly distorted foodway.
and I've been reading Ondaatje's beautiful novel -- when I think of Ondaatje, I think of a certain haunting tone, beautifully bruised, circling the past from various perspectives, bringing to bear a mesmerizing wealth of apparently arcane data that turns out, surprisingly, to be precisely relevant. This time that data comprises gambling, the history and geography of California, French post-war gypsy lore, 13th-century architecture, just to begin. It's one of those novels in the middle of which one pauses to contemplate the next reading. Actually, I'm thinking I have to schedule time to read Ondaatje's oeuvre over a relatively compact period to let some of his bigger themes coalesce more clearly for me.
Meanwhile, though, I'm mostly reading these -- a set of summary/synthesis papers from my first-year students. About 80 papers at 750-1000 words, all to be marked, if humanly possible, within a week. Next week they hand in their proposals and annotated bibliographies for their final papers, and, again, I'll be aiming at a turnaround time of a week. But then that's the last marking I'll do until the research papers come in, three weeks away. So perhaps there'll be a little reading catch-up time. . .

What about you? Reading anything interesting?


  1. I have to confess that in recent weeks things have been so crazy that I have retreated into pulp fiction - I'm reading the last of the Millenium books. But I have written myself a lovely list of books I would like and politely asked people for books and/or bookshop vouchers for my birthday in a couple of weeks. And hopefully then I shall find time to read some of them! Do tell us when you read Wolf Hall - it's on my list too.

  2. I wish we could get away from that sense that we're "confessing" when we talk about genre fiction. Seems pretty ingrained, though, doesn't it!
    I'm hoping to get to those Larsson books soon -- this millenium, at least!