Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Books to be removed from the canon

Found this list at Sullivan's place. A few quick notes:
  • He's absolutely wrong on One Hundred Years of Solitude. The only real complaint he makes is that it's lifeless, which is so bizarre. I actually found the book to be extraordinarily vital--sure, after a while a lot gets lost amid all the births and deaths, but the book introduces some of the fiercest characters in all literature--Jose Arcadio and Ursula Buendia are truly exceptional characters, flawed but likable and resolute progenitors of the doomed town of Macondo. All in all, this is probably the second best Spanish language book ever written (although, admittedly, I haven't read Don Quixote in Spanish, only English).
  • I largely agree with his takes on On The Road and Tale of Two Cities. The former is the sort of book that effectively devastates what it is allegedly trying to support, and I generally found it a loathsome and narcissistic book that, sadly, seems to have been a major influence in crafting a generation with many of its flaws. And I picked up Two Cities after reading Great Expectations in a college class for the second time, and I totally fell in love with the latter book, so I figured I'd check out Dickens's other most famous work. I read about sixty boring pages in, put it aside, and eventually lost the book. I think that Cities ought to be regarded as a minor work, and On The Road should just disappear altogether. (I also think that Great Expectations and Sentimental Education by Flaubert would make excellent companion novels about men who largely want similar things for similar reasons, but Flaubert's protagonist is basically too lazy and too romantic to ever amount to anything, while Dickens's pursues his passion with single-minded fervor and abandons everything else to get Estella. My English class, though, being run by Francophobes as it was had us read Jane Eyre as the companion book, which was also good but Flaubert really is teh awesome.)
  • I haven't read all these books, but let's just say that The Corrections is moving a bit down on my to-read list (and this just after buying it at a Borders for two bucks).

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.