Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sleepy Sunday Salon


Yaaaaawn. Okay, I'm awake.

It's been a crazy week. I haven't worked much more than normal, but things have really picked up in the store and every day has been a busy day. Wednesday night I helped out at the Cambridge Public Library for the Zadie Smith event; Smith, author of White Teeth and On Beauty (among other things) appeared before a packed overflow crowd of Bostonians and Cantabridgians to read and talk about her new novel NW. I was intrigued enough to add it to my paperback list. The bookstore was selling books at the event and my job was crowd control, which involved making sure every seat was filled and everyone who could get a seat, got one. Then I flapped books and did personalizations for people waiting in line for the signing, which I actually find fun.

Otherwise I've been doing a lot of sewing; I completed a medium-sized throw (just the quilt top- I still have to quilt and finish it) and a small doll quilt with the scraps. I'll take pictures and show you soon. And reading! It's been a slow reading week for me. I finished The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers and Tyrant Memory by Horacio Castellanos Moya, a novel about a government takeover and coup in 1930s El Salvador. It mixes comedy and tragedy and was an enjoyable read. The Yellow Birds is a poetic and heartbreaking novel about the Iraq War. Between the two I think I'm ready for a fun read and I think that's going to be Robert Kaster's The Appian Way, a short travelogue of the famous Roman road.

This week I also got involved in an online discussion about the book Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, explaining to some folks why I think people should read it, after some folks expressed hesitancy because the subject matter upsets them. I have certainly passed on certain reads because of unpleasant subject matter (American Psycho? Fifty Shades? No thanks.) But I think with culturally important books that's not a great excuse, even if it's a human one. By skipping an important book, we miss out on a little of what shapes our culture, even the culture of the moment. But you can't read everything, right? I'm tempted to devote a whole post to this but I'm not sure I have more to say about it than that. What do you think? Have you read Lolita? Have you passed on reading it because you find the subject disagreeable?

That's it for me today. Head to Facebook for more Sunday Salon. Have a great day!

11 comments:

Melissa said...

I really enjoy Zadie Smith! I can't wait to read her new book.

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read Lolita. It's not so much that I find the subject disagreeable, it's just that it doesn't sound all that compelling to me.

JoAnn said...

I have an audio review copy of NW... it should be interesting.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I've got NW on audio as well, very excited about that. I've not read Lolita for the primary reason that I just haven't made time. I'm not averse to the plot or anything like that, I'm just easily distracted by whatever is the shiniest and prettiest book out there right now.

Michelle Shannon said...

Interesting that you mention American Psycho as not being culturally important. I've read both Lolita and American Psycho and think they both have an important place defining American culture. Lolita is vital for understanding our fascination with youth, while American Psycho is an amazing vitriol against the materialism and inanity that defines an entire generation. I think the subject matter of both make people squeamish about reading either one. Unfortunately.

Marie said...

I didn't make any judgement about AS one way or the other. I've never had the impression that it's had the impact that Lolita has though I'm sure it has valuable insights into material culture as you say. I'm not well-informed enough on that particular book to make a statement either way.

Space Station Mir said...

So cool about Zadie Smith! I really liked White Teeth and am interested in NW.

On Lolita...I've read it. To be honest, I heavily disliked it, but at the same time couldn't help appreciating it. It is a beautifully written book that is very very disturbing and upsetting. I don't regret having read it and I certainly understand the case for its cultural importance, but I wouldn't personally recommend it.

Ryan said...

American Psycho is ever bit as culturally important as Lolita. It simply hasn't had the same amount of time to marinate, but mark my words, American Psycho will be one of the novels future generations study when they are looking to late 20th century American literature.

Christina Lee said...

" I like what you said, here: "By skipping an important book, we miss out on a little of what shapes our culture, even the culture of the moment."

Alyce said...

I love travelogues, so The Appian Way appeals to me. I look forward to seeing what you think of it.

As for Lolita, I have seen bits and pieces of the movie, but haven't read the book. I've read many reviews, and know what happens in the plot. I just haven't felt compelled to read it.

Lindsey said...

I've read Lolita and didn't find it a particularly enjoyable experience. That being said, I think we are really depriving ourselves of something as readers and as humans if we don't experience things sometimes that make us uncomfortable.
It's something important to think about - thanks for bring it up.