The Sunday Salon - June 04, 2012

Reading: Motherless Brooklyn, Charming Billy, The Fellowship of the Ring

This is an interesting reading week for me since I have finished two books that won literary awards, one being my favorite and the other one being the award that least convinces me. I will try my best to post my write-ups on these two as soon as time would allow me. Anyway, here they are.

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

Date Started: May 26, 2012. 9:15 PM.
Date Finished: May 30, 2012. 2:15 AM.
Book #31 of 2012

Norton as Essrog!
Norton as Essrog!

I love this! I love Lionel Essrog. I don’t care if the ending was a little too neat and even a little sentimental. At the back of my head, I was hoping that some film maker would do a film adaptation of this. And guess what?

Edward Norton (Fight Club) is going to direct one! And to make matters better, he going to direct himself as Lionel Essrog. I was a little surprised because I felt that Lionel should be somewhat bulkier than Norton. A corpulent yet unmuscular man, maybe? But Norton will do. I think he can be Essrog.

Write-up to follow.

Charming Billy by Alice McDermott

Date Started: May 31, 2012. 7:30 PM.
Date Finished: June 3, 2012. 11:30 PM.
Book #32 of 2012

Sleep after each chapter
Sleep after each chapter

First, I have something against the title. I don’t buy the adjective + name formula, and to make matters worse, why choose common names and adjectives? My friend is a witness to my revulsion of this book every time I see it on the shelves of bookstores. He even jokes about it possibly becoming the book of my life.

So I went ahead and read it. I should have trusted my guts; I didn’t like a single page of it. I have a problem with the narrator. I have a problem with the dialogues. I have a problem with the central conflict. And I have a problem with Billy, whom I didn’t find a tad charming.

More problems on my upcoming write-up.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

Date Started: June 4, 2012. 1:15 AM.
Current Page: 21 of 398
Book #33 of 2012

No longer unexpected
No longer unexpected

I bought my copy of this online and had it delivered at our office. One of my bosses saw me opening the package and remarked with incredulity why I haven’t read the book all this time. I would have barked at him had I not been on a jolly mood (it was the last office day before Christmas 2011). I might have said, this is a classic, I can read it anytime I want because it’s supposed to be timeless.

This is our book club’s book of the month, and before I started reading it, I thought it better first to read its prequel, The Hobbit. I enjoyed that one a lot so I’m expecting the first book of the trilogy to be just as fun. By the way, the note on the text of my edition says that The Lord of the Rings is not a trilogy; it’s a long novel divided into three books. Okay, that’s something new to me, but I still prefer to call it a trilogy just because I have it in three books.

I have only been able to read the preliminaries (notes on the text, foreword, prologue) since I started late (or early) at night. A lot of geeky information regarding typographical error history, issues on appendices, and stuff for the nitpickers.

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The Sunday Salon

On other stuff, I’ve been recently listening to audio books. I am currently listening to Gilead, The Remains of the Day, and The Sense of an Ending. These three I have already read and love so much, which is why I am listening to them. A common denominator, aside from my love for them, is that they are written in the first-person point of view.

I think audio books work best on this point of view. It’s more of a conversation than a story. I haven’t tried listening to audio books with a different point of view, but I have a feeling that they would sound different. There would be less intimacy because of the absence of “I”.

Since I mentioned Gilead, I came across an article regarding Marilynne Robinson, particularly on why the author of the article loves the novelist. I adore and respect Robinson. In fact, if there is that kind of writing that I would like to achieve, it would be hers. There’s a quiet grace in her sentences. I am not a religious person, but I don’t mind the theology in Gilead just because the words are too beautiful to care about the subject matter.

One final news, the winner of the Orange Prize has been revealed. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this will be the last “Orange” Prize since they will be renaming the award next year, no?

I forget the winner for I really do not follow the winners of the prize, not because it doesn’t convince me, but because it is focused on women writers. Please don’t think of me as a misogynist, but I think a lot is missed by not considering the works of male novelists. I think men and women are both capable when it comes to writing, so I don’t think it’s necessary to have awards for women only, as if women can’t beat men.

Case in point: Marilynne Robinson, who is, coincidentally, a past winner of the Orange Prize with her recent novel Home. I haven’t read it yet, but I have it in trade paperback and audio. It’s a sort of sequel to Gilead, so I am excited about it.