NOW FINISHED: Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
NOW ALSO FINISHED: the second year of law school!!!
NOW READING: believe it or not, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Hello everyone. What a luxurious thing it is to close the law books and pick up a NOVEL! Even when it isn't strictly a novel. Which, let's be honest, Fear of Flying isn't. You know that whole "All first novels are thinly veiled memoirs" thing Jonathan Safran Foer said to my delight (and which I often quote)? Yeah - I'm looking at you, Erica Jong.
Which is interesting, because it has made me consider some of the other novels ("novels") I've read in this here little literary blog project in that light. I would say Pico Iyer's Cuba and the Night was also a thinly veiled memoir -- and as someone writing my own thinly veiled memoir about time in Cuba, I should know. Also interestingly, that wasn't Iyer's first book, although it was his first novel. Martin Amis' The Information and Nadine Gordimer's None to Accompany Me are later novels by those authors, and they seem much less memoir-ish, despite obvious autobiographical elements.
For all my qualms with genre fiction, the genres give me the least to qualm about in this aspect. You don't really spend your reading of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said or The Maltese Falcon thinking that this is exactly what happened to PKD or Dashiell. Nor Umberto as you read The Name of the Rose...and I must say that book is probably my favorite novel on some level of the ones I've read so far for this project. And it definitely shows a great, literary imagination. A Passage to India is also fantastic -- but also with that true-life touch. In Cold Blood, of course, is a different thing altogether. (And I must admit that in hindsight I don't really think it should have qualified for this project, but oh well.)
So, Erica. Now that I don't believe for a second that "Isadora Wing" is an invented character, what do I think of the book? Even the imagined story isn't really novel-like, because it's filled with all her flashbacks that are more of recounting essays, than recollections of past events. But the things Erica Jong says are interesting, so it makes a good read. And you can see how it "changed women's literature" and all that jazz, too. I hail her as a trailblazer; I just think she had as many issues settling on a genre as I do. So, screw genres! Yeah!
Except I really want to read novels right now. I'm craving them, in fact. Law school will do that to you.
As for the other member of this household (and sometimes member of the literary blog project), Brian has done something awesome this week: he completed Infinite Jest. There we sat in the airport last weekend, me returning to my girl Erica and him Jesting it up. Then Monday I left for a full day's work in the clinic, and when I came home he had finished. (He also got terribly sick that night -- hmmm, coincidence?)
Well, you know what his completion of it has done? Made me recommit to finishing it, too. Yes - I am that competitive. And I'm OK with that. Even if that makes me a literary snob, or at least a literary keep-up-with-the-Joneses. Which is the definition of a literary snob to at least one person I know.
So now that my semester, exams, and work in the clinic are all completed (HURRAH!!!!!!) I, too, have returned to David Foster Wallace's tome. It pissed me off around March (was it March? I think so) and I cast it aside because there was a repulsive, cruel, totally despicable scene I was convinced he put in just for shock value, and it made me lose interest. Lately, however, I must say that reading Fear of Flying has made me think about Jest again because I'm convinced Erica and DFW would be great pot-smoking buddies and have lots to talk about.
That and my incredibly competitive desire to catch up with Brian. Here I go!