Review: Family Pictures, and Magic Windows
Plea to the American Library Association

Lost in Zembla

So, what are the rest of you grown-ups reading? In between kids' books, I am slogging my way through Nabokov's Pale Fire. Seeing as how I loved Pnin, I expected to love Pale Fire, and, alas, I do not. Maybe the love will blossom once I am finished with Pale Fire. Sometimes that happens.  PF strikes me as alternately quite funny,  then mean, and then tedious. And the cycle repeats random order. If any of you are Pale Fire cheerleaders, please chime in and tell me your stories of wonder and amazement. 2-4-6-8, who do we appreciate? NAB-o-kov, na-BOK-ov!

On a break from  my trying excursions with Professor Kinbote and John Shade (see the above), I read Lily King's new novel, The English Teacher, which I highly recommend.  Hardy's novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles is central to the plot, which concerns a tightly wound high-school English teacher with a secret.


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Hi Susan,
Thought I'd just jump in and say thanks for all the Chicken Spaghetti. You'll find some (mostly) grown-up reads below. Thanks again!
Paul Acampora

Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden
Kipling's Choice by Geert Spillebee
Two remarkable novels about lives and worlds coming undone during World War One. Three Day Road is published as an adult novel. I think that Kipling’s Choice is a YA. Both could go either way.

Mark Twain: A life by Ron Powers
Amazing biography that is as much about America finding its voice as it is about Sam Clemens doing the same.

Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles
A lovely, lovely, lovely book.

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
Published as a YA, but I think it belongs on the grown-up list.

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
This is my third time through these books (this time via audio). Unlike with other fantasy work, I cannot imagine what kind of experience kid readers have inside this world.

Hi Susan:

I think I may find the dull parts of PF interesting because of all the litcrit work I've had to do in my life :) It's all so absurd, and the poetry so, so bad, I find it funny.

Grown-up reads have been great this month! I've read Mary Gaitskill's "Veronica" (in one day. I couldn't put it down), Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking" (which I loved as well), and now I'm reading the Candace Millard book about Teddy's journey down the Amazon. Not usually a non-fiction type of gal, but I'd wondered my whole life about this Amazon trip. I'm grateful someone else did too.

Paul, you're welcome! And thanks for the list! One of these days I want to read His Dark Materials. There was an article about Pullman in The New Yorker recently; I was intrigued.

Kelly, I have Joan Didion's book but haven't gotten to it yet. When I think about Pale Fire sometimes, it makes me laugh. Whenever I've kvetched about it, the next section is usually more to my liking.

Me? I'm nearly finished with Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America."

hey, Chris. A friend around here was reading that one and recommended it. Sounds quite interesting.

I'm still on "Pale Fire," and right now I'm in such a tedious part that I'm tempted to abandon it. I haven't had such trouble with a book since Eudora Welty's "Losing Battles," which I read a few years ago.

It's been many years since I read Pale Fire. I don't think I could get through it again; it's too "literary," if you know what I mean, with gales of multilingual puns and obscure references.

Many of his novels are cold as ice: clever, intelligent, witty, but without a lot of emotional wisdom. Pnin is the exception. It's the one I would read again.

Amen, Eddie. I know exactly what you mean. I've now finished "Pale Fire." Thank goodness. Vlad and I will take a break for a while. Now onward, to Joan Didion, Melissa Bank, and Michael Ruhlman.

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