Sunday, June 03, 2007

Summer Reading

Read two books over the Memorial Day weekend that I can recommend. First, a must read this summer is Michael Chabon's new glorious novel, The Yiddish Policeman's Union. I haven't had such fun reading a novel in long-time. It's a murder mystery, scifi alternative future based on the idea that the "new" Israel is relocated to Sitka, Alaska in 1948. And there's a lot of Yiddish. It's grand.

Second, I read Milan Kundera's book on the novel. The Curtain. I haven't read a piece of literary criticism that was as strangely compelling as this in some time. And also infuriating. I just have one gripe with is book, and it is a MAJOR gripe. does Kundera not realize that women write novels? Great ones? It's as if he has never read anything in the whole tradition of the novel that was written by a woman. Of the classics, what about Jane Austen? George Eliot? Or more contemporary, Marilyn Robinson? Doris Lessing? Virginia Woolf? I could go on... But I also still think The Curtain is worth reading.

Summer reads I have in the bag ready for future trips include Don Cheadle's Not On Our Watch, on the genocide in Darfur; Gerharde Forde's post-humous collection, The Preached God; Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red; John Stubb's biography of John Donne; and of course, Harry Potter.

What else should be on my list?


  1. They sound interesting.

  2. I'd highly recommend Barbara Kingsolver's new book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year in Food Life". Not only is it informative, but very entertaining (especially her account of encouraging two turkeys to mate)!

  3. franQ9:31 AM

    Hearing all this talk of the new Chabon release makes me a little sad…

    A year ago, I would have been thrilled and no doubt attended his book signing. He’s been my favorite author since I first read his debut novel THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH back in the early 90s.

    But I can no longer support the work of an author who has no regard for the story and characters that put him on the literary map.

    In case you haven’t heard, there’s a film version of MOP coming out later this year… Written and directed by the guy who brought us DODGEBALL, in which he’s CHANGED 85% of Chabon’s original story.

    And the sad part is… Michael Chabon himself APPROVED of the script! WHY would he do this? I can only think of one possible answer: $$

    If you are a Chabon fan, esp MOP, I suggest you do NOT see this movie. You will be sadly disappointed at the COMPLETE removal of the gay character, Arthur Lecomte, and the fabrication of a romantic love triangle between Art Bechstein, Jane Bellwether, and a bi-sexual Cleveland Arning. And really, what is MOP without the presence of Phlox Lombardi? Alas, she’s barely in it.

  4. Sorry, I haven't read other books by Chabon. I tend to think that movies aren't ever actually versions of the book they're based on- movies are their own piece of art, based on their own merits. Remember when they made a film version of Moby Dick? And they catch the whale and Ahab survives?

    At this point, it is a movie "inspired by" the original novel, but a novel does its own thing, and has its own merits, regardless of whether or when a movie version is made of it.

    That said, I'm sorry for your disappointment, and I'll consider reading earlier Chabon based on the recommendation.