Picking up five years after the action in Running with the Demon, A Knight of the Word takes off at a fast pace and keeps going. If you could skip the first book of the Word & Void trilogy I would recommend it. This one was a huge step forward and I think the 80 fewer pages in this book were all description from the first book, making this one better. I mean you should read both, but know if you make it through the first one, you’ve got this great one to look forward to!
I wasn’t sure how I would like this book with the five years between the two stories and taking the action away from Nest and putting it solely on John Ross. Brooks didn’t let me down though, the story moved quickly to include Nest. It was a bit sad hearing about everything that happened since the end of Running with the Demon, but it was great to be back in the world again so quickly.
After re-reading Fun Home for book group I dove right into the follow-up Are You My Mother? As much as I enjoyed it and ultimately identified with it, it didn’t live up to the magical experience of Fun Home. It’s hard to say whether this lack of magic was a result of the intense navel gazing or the less compelling surface emotional story. To be honest it could be the daughter identifying with mother as this is an experience/story that I will never experience in the same way.
This being said, the story was still eloquently and humorously told! The graphics were just as poignant and detailed as those in the original. I enjoyed the complete color shift from the green-gray to the red, especially when Bechdel revisited scenes from her earlier work and the emphasis changed slightly. The book list in Are You My Mother? wasn’t quite as long as Fun Home but it was still pretty impressive at 38 separate works listed.
I’m not sure where to put this one. It agitated me from the beginning because of its portrayal of fundraising professionals (more on that later), but Messina’s interpretation of Austen’s wit may or may not have made up for that (I’m still trying to determine that for sure).
We all know I love some Jane Austen fan-fiction and I just got a new Wuthering Heights fan-fiction novel so when the publicist* for the novel reached out to me with a copy** of this novel mentioning the upcoming Curtis Sittenfeld adaptation, Eligible, for The Austen Project, I knew I had to say yes. I’m still not sure about the cover because it’s just a bit too disjointed for me, but you know what they say about not judging a book by its cover right?
This novel was such a fun quick read that I’m so glad I took a chance and said yes to the publisher when they reached out to me with a copy.* It didn’t hurt that they suggested I read this piece in the New York Times first and I laughed out loud multiple times (the animation is an added bonus!).
I had very little knowledge or expectations going into Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes other than thinking it was a quirky title and it was a debut novel. I didn’t even know it was set in Providence, Rhode Island until I started reading and did a double-take when they started naming locations around Brown University that I’ve been to. So obviously it got bonus points for that too! We all know I’m a sucker for books set in locations I have fond memories of.
Full steam ahead right? We’re entering the last two months of the year and those are never busy. That last sentence is dripping with sarcasm. Mostly I’m impressed I’m reading anything at all, let alone keeping up with blogging, podcasting and another project that’s in the works. (Not to mention work and friendships and stuff.)
Outside of work it was a busy month full of culture and reading. I’ll talk more about La Bohème and our trip to Wellfleet and Provincetown, MA in the culture corner section. To end the month we went to my friend Caitrin’s house party for Halloween where I dressed as an old fashioned ghost and Tim dressed as Frida Kahlo. Needless to say I’m ready for the cooler weather to stick and to curl up with a book and read, but I don’t know if I’ll have any time to do that this year.
For episode eight of Come Read With Me my friend Peter joined me to discuss Sylvia Path’s only novel The Bell Jar. Although his reasons for wanting to read it were questionable, it was an interesting read. Peter does tweet @peteantonellis, but be forewarned it is all politics and The Simpsons.
Aside from Peter’s ridiculous knowledge when it comes to British Naval Fiction, we discuss the reading list of Daria Morgendorffer; blurring the lines between fiction, memoir and autobiography; mental health and institutionalization; New York City and Boston; WTF are bell jars and diving bells?; modern adaptations of classics; manga vs. anime; and a plethora of other random subjects. You know how it works with these podcasts tangents pretty much are the podcast. I’m embarrassed I couldn’t remember the name Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, I mistakenly called it Dr Strange and Mr. Norrell.
This is one of those books that has so much umph in the cultural milieu that it’s a wonder I’ve never read it before. I squeezed it in just in time this month to get a podcast recorded to be released at the end of the month. If you’re in the Boston area and you want to record one let me know! :-D But, more importantly than podcasting, this book counts as the 43 book of my Classics Club journey. (See, I told you I was still chipping away). I’m so far off target it’s not even funny, but I’m glad that I’m still occasionally reading from my list.
Let’s start with the big to-do about this novel. Maybe it’s not that much of a to-do, but it felt like one. I still don’t know how much of this novel to believe is fiction. It’s very clearly labeled as fiction and yet it is very clearly Plath’s own personal story. I mean her mom wrote a letter to the American publishers saying these are real people and real stories thinly veiled as characters! There is one point where I couldn’t help but laugh because Plath writes Esther, the main character, writing a novel about a character doing the same thing. HOW META CAN YOU GET?! This is the same story being told by three different people all of whom are telling/experiencing the same story.