Monday, October 26, 2009

Alphabetting Again

Hey everyone! Remember my A-to-Z literary blog project? Sure you do, because except for those of you who were here in the War and Peace days there's not been much else to this blog. Well, remember when I finished my A-to-Z project and talked about my final thoughts on which authors I like and which I'd like to read again?

Pretty soon I am going to do that. Going to read a second book, that is, by each of the deserving authors of my top half. Thirteen of my A-to-Z authors are going to get another turn in my ever-growing To Read queue. Namely, Amis, Capote, Dick, Eco, Forster, Iyer, Lawrence, Rushdie, Styron, Updike, Vidal, Warren, and Yalom. (Runner-up was Erica Jong. I'll get to her, eventually. And a few of the others. But not in this next round of thirteen.)

For some of these, I have an idea of what to read next, but for others I need suggestions. For example, for Philip K. Dick, back when I read Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, Sara insisted that I should read his Valis instead. In fact she insisted twice. So I feel compelled to do that one next for him. For E.M. Forster, I am reading Aspects of the Novel next because I own it already and have it sitting by my bed. For Umberto Eco, though, should it be Foucault's Pendulum or not? Should my next Rushdie be Midnight's Children? And so forth.

Most importantly, Martin Amis, since he is first. I am deciding among Time's Arrow, Money, or The Rachel Papers. Anyone? Also, for Pico Iyer I am deciding between Falling Off the Map and Video Night in Kathmandu, leaning toward the latter. Anyone, again?

When is all this happening, you ask? As soon as I finish Madison (I'm past page 400!), another Pulitzer winner, and Up in the Air, I think I will start incorporating my A-C-D-E-F-I-L-R-S-U-V-W-Y into my reading rotation. But I will definitely be spending a few more nights curled up with Madison before I get there.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mad About Madison

now reading: James Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketcham

Actually Brian came up with that catchy phrase, there in the title. That's how he describes me as I delve into my colonial Philadelphia/Virginia world each night. I've been slowly reading my James Madison biography for a couple of weeks now. I need to sit down and read for an hour or two at a time, but instead I seem to only be reading at night before falling asleep -- which means I'm doing twenty pages a day. It's a 700-page book. This could take a while.

But I do like my boy Madison, and I relate to him a lot, what with his not knowing what he wants to do with his life, reading law but never wanting to practice as a lawyer, not bothering to be admitted to the bar, etc. One thing of interest is that this bio mentions from time to time what Madison was reading at various stages of his education and life. He sought all the great writers of course, not just on political theory but philosophy, literature, lots of classics, ancients, essays, Montesquieu was apparently big, and so on. I keep finding myself folding the corner of the page so I can go back and get more reading recommendations. Thanks a lot, Madison and Ketcham. After I slog through this 700-page book, I'll just have 700 more books added to my list.

No, really, though -- should I continue blogging about non-fiction here or not? I suppose I can blog about everything I read. But the literary snob (joke) in me keeps wondering if some things should be excluded.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

My boy Madison

This is just a quick note to say I'm reading Ralph Ketcham's James Madison: A Biography, which means it will be a while until I'm reading a novel again. I never know whether I want to blog about non-fiction or not. I probably should, since I read a lot of it. This book's a doozy - 700 pages of colonial bio. I will say, though, that a hundred pages in I have found yet another President who in his early twenties had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. I have discovered this recurring theme as I go along reading a biography of each prez (to see where we went wrong).

I will also say that I have found myself to have quite a bit in common with Madison, not the least of which was that he "read the law" only due to his interest in public affairs, with no intention to ever become a counselor-at-law. Ha! That's my boy! Bar exam, schmar exam. And if I haven't yet convinced you to read it, there's also a delightfully matter-of-fact one-sentence insult of Long Island that made me really happy.

What do you think? Why do I hesitate to blog about non-fiction here? Is it related to my supposedly being a literary snob or what? Did I even mention that I recently read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?