Monday 30 June 2008

Curious/Creepy: I'm not the only one looking over your shoulder

It was a lucrative book-spying day on the TTC yesterday; I've got four sightings to tell you about in this my second installment of Curious/Creepy. But before I get to the reportage, I will pass on to you what Fathima has informed me of: I'm not the first person to think it's a good idea to blog about peering over your shoulder to see what you're reading. Check out for a (likely much more) compelling alternative (which also appears to include a podcast). The author of that blog is much more poetic than I am; I go for the thuggish, semi-coherent version of here.

What's awesome, I think, is that this book voyeur also appears to live in Toronto. In some amazing convergence of the stars, I hope that someday we'll end up spying on each other reading while in transit.

So, these are the myriad books we espied yesterday.

The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty. It took hubby and I awhile to be able to determine exactly what the title of this book was - the readeress is someone who likes to bend her books into unlikely and I imagine uncomfortable positions, which is good for reading but not good for creepy voyeurs like me. At first, all we could see was Mem-, which led Brook to speculate that perhaps she was reading a book called Memnoch the Damned, which he also speculated "would be awesome". No, there is no book called Memnoch the Damned. YET.

I've both seen and reported on this woman before - she featured in the first C/C for reading Three Day Road. I've noted, having seen her read two books now, that she never has a bookmark and must flip through the book for awhile until she finds where she left off. Girl, if you can afford the book, surely you can afford the FREE bookmark too? You're wasting precious reading time flipping around that way!!! I'm trying to protect you from unnecessary pain here!

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I have seen the film based on this book, and I've been assured, strenuously, that in spite of the celluloid mush it became under the unbearably earnest and immature hands of director Sean Penn, the book is fantastic. I still don't think I'm going to read it. Even if Sean Penn removed all possible subtleties from the protagonist's motivations for going to eat rice and die in coldest Alaska, I still suspect I'll think that guy was a sociopathic wanker who was a total shit to everyone he knew. I generally thought the movie was annoying but thought Hal Holbrook's small role was absolutely brilliant - brilliant enough to almost (but not quite) make the film okay overall.

In any case, I find it almost impossible to read non-fiction so even if the film version of Into the Wild hadn't completely erased all possibility of me ever reading this book, it's 99% likely I never would have read it anyway.

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields. I read a Carol Shields book once; it was called The Republic of Love. Because of The Republic of Love, I will gouge my own eyes out before ever reading another book by Carol Shields. The Republic of Love is, as I recall, about two losers who don't know how to relate to other adults romantically except in soap opera/Grey's Anatomy fashion. The guy has been married 3 times and the woman, I can't remember if she's been married or not.

I do recall her crying in a heap outside his apartment door (maybe I'm not so creepy after all - I suppose it's all relative) and telling him to go fuck himself, repeatedly. I think it might somehow end happily anyway. To use a critical term appropriate to the quality of this book - barf!!! This whole crying outside the door thing is the stuff of late Bon Jovi videos (after they became completely soft, the bastards) and Harlequin romance novels (which the formerly hilarious Grey's Anatomy TV show is looking a lot like these days).

Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner. I've read some Faulkner in my day and I want to give mad props to the person who can read this stuff on the busy, loud Toronto subway. Faulker is, I recall, good but as I also recall, makes my brain hurt a little. I haven't actually read Absalom, Absalom! but I have read John Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel and that made my brain hurt.

Sometimes it is good to read a book that makes your brain hurt - Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, and Invisible Man, to name a few, all made my brain hurt but in a really good way. It's been so long since I read any Faulkner that I honestly can't remember if he gives me good brain pain or not. But now that I've got two Faulkners languishing on my shelf (I've been carrying Light in August around for the past 6 years or so. Le sigh) I guess I'd better find out soon.

But check out this book cover. This edition of Absalom, Absalom! is part of Random House's new Everyman's Library collection of classic books which I totally adore. Most of the paperbacks have that lovely gold and black combination on the cover and they're pretty affordably priced - because everyone should be able to buy and read the classics in beautiful bindings!

1 comment:

Bookphilia said...

Brook was this morning embarrassed to discover that Anne Rice has published a novel called Memnoch the Devil. Brook has read an Anne Rice novel and so feels he's not being close-minded when he says she's a hack writer and he's mortified to have come up with a fake book title so close to a real title of hers. Feel free to gently point and laugh at him.