Wouldn’t it take an outsider to aptly critique the American scene, the American people, the American culture? Hugh Kenner, a Canadian, did this at the end of a section devoted to Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams in his book A Homemade World: The American Modernist Writers. A book dedicated to Guy Davenport. A book on Donald Barthelme’s syllabus.
[Last weekend, en route to Madagascar, Jeremy M. Davies swung by my Chicago atelier to hear my neighbor perform Mahler’s “Quartet for Strings and Piano in A Minor” on his singing saw. Fifteen minutes in, two other friends stopped by, bearing bootleg DVDs of three new films: Midnight in Paris, The Tree of Life, and X-Men: First Class. The singing saw forgotten, I fired up my video projector, and a marathon viewing ensued. Hours later, our guests departed, Jeremy and I recorded the following conversation.]
A D: Jeremy, when did you give up on Woody Allen?
Jeremy: Small Time Crooks.
(First post on The Recognitions)
In the middle of this wonderful book, many characters are running around trying to one up most everyone else–most significantly the character Recktall Brown (yes, Recktall Brown) has the forger Wyatt making false masterpieces of 500 year old Flemish Art. But Otto, the failed and flailing playwright, in love with a willowy heroin addict Esme, takes on more of a pivotal role in the middle of the book.
Sure, I understand summer is when kids and teachers have months-worth of vacation time. When people of means take trips to Hawaii or something. But for most of us, summer just means it’s better weather out while we’re inside working. So, by all means, make summer reading lists. But why not just make reading lists. Period. ?
To that end, here’s a list for you:
Books to Read During Your Lunch Break While at Work this Summer
BOOK by Ken Sparling
The Awful Possibilities by Christian TeBordo
Pee On Water by Rachel Glaser
When All Our Days Are Numbered by Sasha Fletcher
The Journey of Ibn Fattoum by Naquib Mahfouz
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Q Road by Bonnie Jo Campbell
As Cool As I Am by Pete Fromm
All of these are quite digestable in a few lunch hours (or half-hours). Besides, who needs to eat.
“I sat in the chair and looked at the floor and prayed for Catherine.”
–From Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms