Jane Austen Read All A-long Book Two (Pride and Prejudice) and Man Booker Longlist Reading

marvel1I’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.


9 thoughts on “Jane Austen Read All A-long Book Two (Pride and Prejudice) and Man Booker Longlist Reading

  1. I agree about Underground Railroad. And here’s the thing–I loved it when I read it, but now I remember hardly anything about it. But Bardo haunted me, and still does. I’d give it the prize over Railroad.

    1. I think I would, too. But so far Days Without End is my favorite. I don’t think it will win for a couple of “political” reasons, but it’s my pick at this point.

  2. I started Pride and Prejudice today. Looks like I am going to have read Lincoln in the Bardo soon… once I get a copy. I hear nothing but good things about it.

  3. The Underground Railroad is the only book on the Booker list that I’d read ahead of time. And I agree with you that it shouldn’t get the prize. It’s a good book, but it’s not so good that it needs to sweep *all* the prizes.

    So far, out of the three contenders I’ve read, I’d give the prize to Lincoln in the Bardo. But I have a lot left to read. (Reservoir 13 is the one I’m most looking forward to, as I’m a McGregor fan.)

  4. I loved Days without End–read it this past February and loved every bit of it. What a work of imagination, and from a reader whose expertise is the mid-19th-century U.S., an excellent job of research by a British author!
    I own a copy of History of Wolves, which I was enthused about when I purchased it in early January, but here I am in August, having not picked it up. I was very interested to read your thoughts about it.
    My copy of Pride and Prejudice is due to arrive on Tuesday, and my copies (yes, two of them) of Mansfield Park arrive on Thursday.
    I’m in the midst of writing a blog entry to encourage more people to join your Austen read-a-long. Should be ready by tomorrow.
    I’m looking forward to re-reading Pride and Prejudice after 48 years. I was a junior in high school when I loved it the first time.
    Best to you,

    1. Thank you for plugging the Jane Austen Read All A-long. I’m sorry that you’ll have no more thoughts on History of Wolves from me. I’m returning my copy to the library tomorrow. I confess that I just bought a second copy of Jane Eyre. I’m thinking of doing a Bronte Read All next year to coincide with Emily’s 200th birthday in July.

      1. Hi James,
        I finally pulled together my blog post and call for folks to join up for your Jane Austen read-a-long. I wanted to publish it Sunday, but life intervened. and it wasn’t until today, Wednesday, when I published it. Sorry for being so slow!
        By the way, I borrowed 4,3, 2, 1 more than a month ago. I have always considered Paul Auster to be one of my all-time favorite authors, and he is. But I realized that I don’t have the time to devote to such a long book by him this year. He is one of our great writers. Next year I hope!

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