Friday, January 16, 2009

Break Reading

One of my reading deficiencies is American fiction of the past 60 years. I used winter break to do a little catching up, reading Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint and Don DeLillo's White Noise. Though I enjoyed both novels (and I want to read more Roth), I don't have a special comment to make on either (though I will note that reading DeLillo after Roth made me appreciate how "natural" a writer Roth is. DeLillo's sentences often read like those of a 20th century craftsman of fiction, Roth's never so--though this may be attributed to the narrative form of Portnoy's Complaint. I might also note that White Noise made me reflect on the level to which I fear death. Though Christian, I don't have a convicted faith in God or afterlife. I fear death enough to do what I can to extend life, hence my vegan care for my bodily health. And I do think about death every day--quite literally, probably many times a day if I focused on it. But in a relative sense, I don't think my fear of death is terribly strong. Has this parenthetical gone far enough?). But each novel evoked things in my mind, frequently other books but occasionally events. Here are some of the things each work made me think about.

Portnoy's Complaint
Roth's own Sabbath's Theater and Operation Shylock, Fowles' Daniel Martin

White Noise
Camus' The Plague, Stephen King's The Stand and Dreamcatcher, Dostoevsky's Demons, A.E. Housman's "To An Athlete, Dying Young," Tony Harrison's "v." September 11th, Hurricane Katrina

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