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Archive for June, 2009

Andrew Sullivan posts an email I sent him — I am the middle anonymous reader.  He edited my text, but I think it’s better for being edited.

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I haven’t posted much lately, for which I am kind of sorry.  Here’s a short roundup of what I’ve been reading:

A Lost Lady: This was not so much bad (which I had expected) as puzzling.  The story was competently told, and it was brief, which is a virtue.  The Wikipedia entry for this book says simply that “the novel is regarded as having a robust symbolic framework.”  I take this to mean that you can use the word literally a lot when talking about it:  Mrs. Forrester was literally a fallen woman (because her husband found her after she had fallen down the side of a mountain);  sparks literally fly in a private moment between Mrs. Forrester and Mr. Ellinger (they are sparks of static electricity), after his stroke, Mr. Ellinger is literally marking time until his death (he sits watching a sundial).  This wears on you once you recognize it.

But I was puzzled by the author’s attitude towards Mrs. Forrester: a young, beautiful woman who is married to an older railroad magnate, living in a hick town.  After financial reverses and then his death, she is left penniless and stranded.  She uses her fading beauty and her wiles to manipulate some young men of the town so that she can get some money together and leave.  Later on, it is learned that she moved to Argentina and married a millionaire, living the high life until she died.  Sounds good to me.

Our point of view character, though, is totally disapproving, thinking that it’s such a shame how she ended up, etc.  How horrible that she should leave poverty on the frozen prarie and remarry a wealthy man.  I mean, what a mistake!  She did have to sleep with a couple of unpleasant types to get there, and she becomes a bit of a drunk, but so what?  Strange.

I also read  The Plague, by Albert Camus.  I don’t have a lot to say about it except that I found it riveting.  Also, the copy I got out of the library was this funny version that semeed to have has all the margins sliced off,  so that the resulting book was tall and skinny and the text ran to the very edges of the paper.   Strange.

Continuing the Trashcan Diaries, I’m reading Master and Commander, by Patrick O’Brien.  I can only describe it as a “ripping good read” — it’s an extremely detailed comic book, but well done and entertaining.

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