Monday, April 10, 2006

What I have been doing...

For all those who were worried, I am safe and sound. I don't have a broadband connection at home, at least not yet, and I am still a little confused about the new environment that I find myself in. It is strange how much things have changed or perhaps it is only me who has changed and it is just a few months that I have been away.

Anyway, I have been reading Ian McEwan's new novel Saturday and what a fantastic book it is and I am still only half way through! There are some brilliantly illuminating passages about air-travel in the post 9-11 world, about war in Iraq, the role of literature in contemporary life, specially where the protagonist, Henry Perowne, discusses the value of literature (Flaubert, Tolstoy, James, Conrad) with his daughter. A little later Perowne gets an admonishement from his daughter, when he calls the realism of Mme Bovary an example of "workman-like accumulation", to which her daughter says that Flaubert was warning the world about people "just like you". Truly, it is not difficult to imagine how Flaubert would have reacted to a man who defends the idea of "progress" by claiming that "the coffee vending machine is getting better"!

More on the book when I finish reading. Also found this interesting quote by the French poet Mallarme. In a letter to his friend he says (and I am quoting from memory), "as a poet I want my nocturnal emissions to be like milky way, while they just remain nasty patches"!!

This quote is from the book Proust Among the Stars by Malcolm Bowie. It is an epigraph to the chapter on "SEX" in the book. It looks like a very good book too. I was initially thinking it would be some high-falutin lit-crit book, it still is, but looks approachable after I read bits of it (I started with the sex chapter!). I am going to miss the Powell's book store in chicago. You won't get a hardcover university press book worth the price of a sandwich here (or even less)!


km said...

Looks like someone's dusted off that old dial-up modem! I listened to an interview with McEwan a few months ago. There's just too many damn books in the queue.

If I leave America, I know I will miss the book-shops, esp. the used-books stores :(

Jabberwock said...

The opening passage of Saturday is in my list of great beginnings of novels. Right up there with Moby Dick and Great Expectations.