I’m taking a break from my recent stint of Man-Booker Prize Long List books to read Jane Austen’s second published novel Pride and Prejudice for the Jane Austen Read All A-long. You can still sign up for the remaining five books here. I will get to the famous openng sentence later today.
I’ll be reading Pride and Prejudice on the ferry boat this week as I go back and forth to San Francisco where I’m taking a week-long book-binding intensive at The Center for the Book. I’ve been taking classes there each summer for several years now.
This week I’ve had a sudden burst of reading. Four books completed and one abandoned. I am one of those people who try to read the long lists for certain book prizes each year. The Man Booker Prize long list came out earlier in July so I reserved all of the available books at my local library. Two are unavailable in the U.S.. Of those two Reservoir 13 looks like something I may just have to order at my local book shop. The other is the one that’s a single novel length sentence and I just can’t. I really can’t.
I tried History of Wolves but gave up after 80 pages. Not that it’s a bad book, just not another coming of age story about a girl who falls in with mysterious neighbors for me. Can’t do it. And the pedophile teacher sub-plot. Really? Again? No thanks.
I did check out Paul Auster’s 4 3 2 1 but it looks really long. Really long. If it makes it to the short list I’ll give it a go, but I’m sticking with the shorter books for now.
So I read Days Without End by Sebastian Barry and kind of fell in love a little bit with the two main characters. A guilty sort of love because each one is stained by their participation in the Indian genocide of the American West circa 1850. I’m not sure a character can ever be redeemed from such things, but I loved the book. It’s going to be my new favorite book when I review it this Tuesday. If things go according to plan.
Then, on Wednesday, I’ll announce a different book as my new favorite, George Saunders’ wonderful historical ghost story Lincoln in the Bardo. Since I’m reading the long list books without read their flaps first, I had no idea what to expect with any of them. I honestly thought Bardo was a place in France, so I was expecting a traditional piece of historical fiction, not the assemblage ghost story I got. But I loved it. More to follow on Wednesday.
Once I complete Pride and Prejudice, I’ll continue with the long list in the vain hope that I can read it all by September 13 when the short list is announced. I’ve already read The Underground Railroad which I enjoyed but won’t be reading again. It’s excellent, but come on. Does it have to be nominated for everything? This is one consequence of opening up the Man Booker Prize to books published in the U.S. It does seem like certain books are nominated for everything, just like certain authors are. No matter how mundane their current book is, they’ll get all the nominations. You know who they are.
Mr. Whitehead has won enough awards this year: Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and Oprah’s Book Club. It’s even on the Arther C. Clark Science Fiction Awards short list.
That’s enough. Give someone else a prize.