Friday, July 2, 2010

Leisure reading.

I'm doing it, a bit. Though I'm not sure I can tell any longer the difference between leisure reading and work reading, since my interpretive strategies remain constant.

Two thoughts:

1) I'm reading Henning Mankel, all his Wallender mysteries. I'm not a habitual mystery buff, but I can get into a good tale, especially of the broody Swedish variety. But I wonder whether the high incidence of mystery-fandom I've encountered in academia has to do with some kind of vicarious living: the detective is trying to figure something out, works doggedly, sometimes fails and doesn't understand what's at hand and must start again (that's more the broody Swedish variety), and then finally arrives at the long-sought-after solution/ resolution. Isn't that pretty much what I'm doing this summer? It's nice to see models of success, is all I'm saying.

2) I just finished Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road, and I find myself utterly seduced by the surface of its language. I'm not actually sure whether I even perceived the plot, to be honest, because I was stuck on the dazzling language. I thought about stealing some of it, until I had to concede that he's really just operating in an entirely different language-family than my work will ever use. But golly, it's pretty to look at.


Moria said...

Oh oh oh oh oh OH, Michael Chabon makes me swoon so hard. Gentleman might just be my favorite – it's so completely wild (um, what, ninth-century-central-Asian-Jewish-picaresque? how is that a genre?!) that the sheer accomplishment of it (and in such short space!) is absolutely breathtaking. And yes, I could read his sentences for days. The shift in style from the endless syntax-cycles of Kavalier and Clay to the pitch-perfect clipped precision of The Yiddish Policemen's Union is what convinced me that he's not just brilliant but an absolute frakking genius.

(And read the first essay in Maps and Legends – I dare you not to gasp aloud.)

...Uh, I'm a bit of a fangirl. Can you tell?

Lisa B. said...

I was just going to say how much I think of Chabon's accomplishment, but to the above, perhaps I'll just say . . . ditto. He's good. I loved Yiddish Policemen's Union--so when you're ready to pick up another, that's one I recommend.

I liked Henning Mankel quite a bit--enough to read and finish all the Wallender ones so far. I *loved*, however, Arnaldur Indridason's Icelandic ones.

Anonymous said...

Chabon = brilliant.

Anonymous said...

I read all of the Wallander books in German, and started because they were big hits here. I also read a lot of other mystery fiction, but I think the reason that I loved Wallander so much is because he was constantly making mistakes at work, and because the rest of his life was such a miserable failure. I saw a parallel to that in my own existence, the missed dinners, ignored family members, damp clean clothes rotting in washing machines. Arnaldur I., whom I also loved, was like a distilled, more intense version of that.