Sunday, February 15, 2009


Seems a weekend for meme-tag. This one comes courtesy of present over at Let It Be. The subject is books, our loves and a dis-list thrown in. Thank heavens for President's Day off, and a little extra time on my hands, though truth be told, I've got a pile of six weeks tests and grading comments awaiting me on my day "off." Better this bit of earnest procrastination.

The List:

4 childhood books I've read.
1. The Collected Works of James Marshall (local Trinity grad made good, with the sublime George and Martha, the Miss Nelsons, the outrageous Fox series, the Stupids, and Space Case, just to name a few).
2. Winnie the Pooh A. A. Milne (One Bear of Very Little Brain to another)
3. Frog and Toad Are Friends Arnold Lobel (Demented toad and his analyst pal)
4. Moo, Baa, La La La Sandra Boynton (Walden's very first book, from "Aunt" Diana)

4 Classics, read and never forgotten. (Damn! What's a "classic?")
1. Narcissus and Goldmund Hermann Hesse (The beginning of the turning point, my freshman year.)
2. The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner (Fully turned, at this point)
3. Bleak House Charles Dickens (Beginning of a six month love affair with CD)
4. The Odyssey Homer (Fitzgerald's translation and his wine-dark seas)

4 Personal Modern Classics
1. Gravity's Rainbow Thomas Pynchon (Far more expansive than any drug)
2. The Tropic of Capricorn Henry Miller (Less sex than its notorious companion, but for my money, much more profound, and better written to boot.)
3. All the Pretty Horses Cormac McCarthy (It took two tries, but the second time I was hooked: it lived and breathed in me for months; a gorgeous, heartbreaking extended coda.)
4. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez (One of the best endings, bar none.)

4 Authors I've read again and again.
1. Thomas Pynchon.
2. Grace Paley.
3. Padgett Powell.
4. John Fowles.

4 Books I'll never read again (nor comment upon, either.)
1. Julius Caesar William Shakespeare
2. Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
3. The Golden Notebook Doris Lessing
4. The Corrections Jonathan Franzen

4 Books on my To Be Read / Busta Move list (how the hell do I know this?)
1. Another Easter/Lenten reading of Gravity's Rainbow.
2. Thoreau's Collected Journals.
3. Padgett's long-awaited new novel, whenever it gets here.
4. Isaac Bashevis Singer's Collected Stories.

2 Fiction / 2 Nonfiction Books to the Desert Isle.
1. Against the Day Thomas Pynchon
2. Collected Stories Grace Paley
3. Rimbaud in Abyssinia Alain Borer (translation: Rosemary Waldrip)
4. The Maine Woods / Cape Cod Henry David Thoreau

4 Book recommendations I have followed and loved.
1. Gravity's Rainbow Thomas Pynchon (A life-changer, recommended by my junior year English tutorial grad student)
2. Lonesome Dove Larry McMurtry
3. The Simple Truth / What Work Is Philip Levine (Poetry we should all read)
4. Collected Stories H. P. Lovecraft (L, the brilliant resident Rimbaud at the Instituto, was about to pin an awesome drawing of Cthulhu on my bulletin board: she refused to do so, until I read some Lovecraft. HP puts Poe to shame. Cthulhu got pinned.)

The last lines of one of my favorite books.
Well, this was an interesting finish. For the longest time, I have always held the last lines of One Hundred Years of Solitude and All the King's Men to be the best endings to any novels I have read. Turns out they are on a list I just found of the 100 Best Last Lines from Novels. So, here goes:

Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind or exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the documents, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth. (Garcia Marquez)

We shall come back, no doubt, to walk down the Row and watch young people on the tennis courts by the clump of mimosas and walk down the beach by the bay, where the diving floats lift gently in the sun, and on out to the pine grove, where the needles thick on the ground will deaden the footfall so that we shall move among the trees as soundlessly as smoke. But that will be a long time from now, and soon now we shall go out of the house and go into the convulsion of the world, out of history into history and the awful responsibility of Time.
(Robert Penn Warren)

But, then again:

The boardwalk through the thinned swamp looked miraculous, as if the burning had been a plan of architectural landscaping. The handsome, lean swamp, the walk suggesting a miniature railroad trestle going out into it, resembled a park. If you winnowed and got down pretty clean and were normal, she thought, and something happened - like a big-bubba sheriff and thousands of windfall contracting and a completely different kind of life than you had had - and you started becoming a character, and you paid nothing for it and did not scheme for it, and it reversed your winnowing, and you liked brandy suddenly, at least in coffee, while watching men who put classical sculpture to shame, was it your fault? (The last paragraph of Padgett Powell's story "The Winnowing of Mrs. Schuping," from collection entitled Typical.)

Once again, the slacker's approach to tagging. All who wish to enter the sandbox, just jump on in...



Blogger Devil Mood said...

Classics and modern classics, that's a tough one. I just finished reading Tow Sawyer, I didn't remember his adventures were so scary. I'm sure in the tv show I watched as a kid they censored most of it.

12:21 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

No doubt, DM. Hey, it's good to hear from you!

12:29 PM  
Blogger mrs. g. said...

Excellent list! Lots of good stuff to browse through here. Might take a while, though...

9:16 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Mrs. G: Mathematician like yourself should have no problem. Thanks for stopping by.

9:52 PM  
Blogger present said...

Viva Procrastination!
James Marshall is a favorite of my second graders. You can't beat the Miss Nelson stories! Arnold Lobel is a champion to the emergent reader. Students feel so successful with Frog and Toad.
I'll take as a recommendations and look forward to checking out, Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (as well as your list of re-read authors).
Check it out: Bust A Move

12:02 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

present: Marshall is awesome. Once a year, I pull out the animated versions of Space Case and the Miss Nelsons and start to play them for my upper schoolers, who bitch and moan for about 30 seconds: then they're totally hooked.

Some cool claymation Frog and Toads were made, too.

Since completing the meme, I've begun my fourth or five Lenten/Easter reading of Gravity's Rainbow. Not everyone's cup of tea, mind.

4:11 PM  
Blogger San said...

Thank you Paschal, for posting that last line to One Hundred Years of Solitude. Now I am yearning to read that again. And oddly, I'm also wanting to look into The Golden Notebook again. Haven't read that since I was a slip of a twenty-something and it moved me.

I'm a bit surprised there's no Atwood on your listings. Then again, so many classics, too little time to list and list and list and...

OH, I had forgotten about George and Martha. That brings back a rush of memories of holding Flan's hand, pushing Oaks in the stroller to the Parkside Public Library in San Francisco, looking for treasures, bringing them home and feasting.

4:08 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Oh, Ms San, there were way too many books left off the list. The off-list is impressive...

10:37 PM  

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