Reading Plan: August 2015

3 comments

The Trial by Franz Kafka book cover
This month Harper Lee’s second ever novel knocked that queen of kink E. L. James off the top of the bestsellers chart – is this some kind of magical utopia where order is restored to the reading world? I think it must be… oh wait, good ol’ Atticus is a card-carrying racist these days? What’s next revivify Peter Rabbit and turn him into a horny little sex pest? That’s it, #TeamChristian all the way – sex perverts > racists any day. (To my shame, or possibly my credit, I just had to google that to check Christian had an ‘h’ in it.) In all seriousness, Go Set a Watchman is an intriguing prospect and I’m glad to hear we’ve not been served up a formulaic bit of nostalgia – who would have expected Harper Lee not to ruffle some feathers anyway?

Putting the publishing event of the century aside, or whatever glib label marketing departments have slapped on the return of old Finchy, how’s everyone’s summer been so far? I hope you’ve all noticed that I have, for once, been motoring through the books I planned to read this month. In truth, so much so that I now seem to be a bit reading-fatigued – I’m not sure that’s a thing that bibliophiles are supposed to admit to, but sometimes you wind up with too many stories whizzing around your head at once and they kind of crash into each other. For instance, I keep thinking a particular passage from Nausea about the worthlessness of memories is from Kafka’s The Trial, or The Good Soldier. Not a big thing, but it muddles my impressionable brain – am I the only one who can’t keep his stories straight?

Speaking of The Trial, that’ll be my book of the month for August. I haven’t reviewed any Kafka on here as yet and it would be good to hear all of your opinions on the man who gave his name to one of the most irritating words you’ll ever read in a review, namely ‘Kafkaesque’, as in ‘doesn’t the frequent employment of the word Kafkaesque to illustrate a slightly otherworldly charm to a novel strike you as the sort of thing a character of Kafkaesque mindlessness is likely to trot out in a seemingly never-ending, one might say Kafkaesque, cycle of reviews that make up the rather futile fodder that passes for intellectualism in the Kafkaesque world of newspeak?’ Anyway, according to reviews The Trial is apparently quite Kafkaesque, which is reassuring.

Next up is The Color Purple, which is a rather strange, even Kafkaesque – ok, I’ll stop now – story by Alice Walker, which was, of course, famously made into a film by Steven Spielberg. Spanning nearly half a century, the novel tells the story of an African-American woman growing up in the South, who has to contend with all manner of disadvantage in her life. It’s a story a lot of you will probably already know, but it is quite new to me.

I’m also planning to read The Catcher in the Rye as someone likened my book to it months ago (in style, I hasten to add, not quality). That intrigued me, and it seems that just about everyone has read Salinger’s classic apart from me, so I’d better get on and go through it before someone else tells me there is an obvious literary link there and I look like a fool for being quite clueless on the subject (or the kind of terribly evasive creep who doesn’t acknowledge his influences).

That’s my August all stacked up and ready to roll then – what will you all be enjoying over summer while you’re holidaying about the world like the bunch of decadent jetsetters we all know bibliophiles are?

Notable Posts from July
Review: Alice and the Fly by James Rice
Interview: James Rice
Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Review: Emma by Jane Austen
Review: The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
Review: Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre

3 comments:

Di said...

1/ The Trial isn't my favourite Kafka. Among the (unfinished) novels I love Amerika. His best works are the short stories, "The Metamorphosis" especially, "The Judgement", "The Hunger Artist", "In the Penal Colony"... His letters are wonderful too, especially the love letters.
2/ Why do you use the word "Kafkaesque" for The Color Purple?
That's 1 of the words thrown around so carelessly that it becomes meaningless.
3/ From what I saw in your tweets, you've been having problems with Alice Walker's book?
4/ Have you read Toni Morrison or Maya Angelou or Gayl Jones?
5/ You'd better not read The Catcher in the Rye. That's another novel over which I'm always ready to fight with others. Don't make me make you hate me. Hahahaha.
Reading some other Salinger works helps understanding The Catcher in the Rye, I believe.

Matthew Selwyn said...

(1) No, I'm not sure it is my favourite either. It is interesting sitting down to write a review - my head swirls from one opinion to another on it.

(2) I agree, that was kind of the joke, carried on from the previous paragraph. I wouldn't really use it for The Color Purple (or much at all to be honest).

(3) I'm not sure problems - I want to find the best way to approach it as to give it a fair chance with me. I think I'm putting realism to one side to an extent with it.

(4) Nope. Well, bits, but I don't really know much about any of them.

(5) Oh, it's happening. I'm sure I'll enjoy it, although that didn't save me with Mansfield Park. We'll see how I get on, then you can correct me when I'm wrong ;)

Hibernators Library said...

Wow. That's a very thoughtful review of The Trial. I'm afraid I read this long before I had any inkling of existentialism. So you got a lot more out of it than I did. I took the events rather literally rather than as thoughts of a delusional man. You're right. K. did act more guilty as time went on. Honestly, I imagine that's what it's like for a mentally ill person to undergo trial. They vaguely know what's happening, but don't really get the "why" or the consequences. I'm reading Crazy by Pete Early right now, so I'm reading a lot about the mentally ill and the judicial system. Thanks for the thoughtful review.