1. I read Edith Wharton's Ethan Fromme to benefit from the astute and enlightening post written by Lisa's father, The Professor, and posted over at her website, Privilege. Will I shock you if I admit that it's the first Wharton novel I've read? Remember, I'm a Canadianist, and although I do have some familiarity with American Lit, it's primarily the more contemporary writing. I'll definitely make room for more Wharton after this introduction, especially now that The Professor has drawn my attention to the finer linguistic aspects of the dialogue. I'm also rather interested to compare the text's "coldness" (again, note what the Prof says about this) with some rather cold Canadian texts. The combination of social and meteorological coldness, especially against a background of class relations, though, seems rather particular. (Yet some of Sinclair Ross's stories come to mind, particularly for the social isolation.)
I was disappointed that I hadn't managed to view the film version of this -- especially since it featured a very good cast. But The Professor's impatience with it reconciles me to my failure, and I doubt I'll try to search out the video now.
2. I read David Adams Richards' Incidents in the Life of Markus Paul (a copy I had him sign after hearing him speak) as I flew back across Canada from New Brunswick, finishing it over the first few days back home. Surprisingly, it's something of a page-turner, as close to genre fiction--the mystery--as I can imagine Richards getting. Usually, I read his books with some mixture of fascinated horror and genuine concern for the one or two truly human individuals that tend to redeem the surrounding banal multiplying selfishnesses of the world he describes . . . his Miramichi a microcosm of humanity, but also a fascinatingly particular region, harsh, gothic, sometimes beautiful. I'm also generally horrified by, yet oddly admiring of, Richards' disregard for intellectual and literary fashion, for what I hate calling "political correctness" yet concede the term's usefulness. Richards writes about religion and race in ways that occasionally make me wince, yet excepting his narrators' overblown disgust with academe, I admit that he writes with intellectual honesty and rigour. And as particular as his works are to a small, rather remote region, he gets to the universal in a way that recalls those big Russian writers he favours (at least, they certainly come up in the interviews/articles I've read about him).
3. Richard Wagamese's Dream Wheels is a much more accessible novel, but linked to
I note that by some interesting coincidence, I have once again brought Wagamese and Richards together in a post. I wonder what that's about . . .