Graham Swift

The Sunday Salon - July 9, 2012

Reading, and then Rereading

This is another slow week for me. I actually thought of ditching all the books that I have planned to read for this month. But don’t be alarmed; it was just a passing thought, something that I didn’t take seriously. Besides, I think I have really good books lined up ahead, so this should be an interesting month.

But before that, let’s wrap up the June books that I just finished this week.

Last Orders by Graham Swift

Date Started: June 24, 2012. 2:00 PM.
Date Finished: July 4, 2012. 9:30 PM.
Book #36 of 2012

The Final Sentence. Finally!

The Final Sentence. Finally!

Oh god, perhaps I shouldn’t have read this along with another book by one of my favorite authors. I was easily annoyed by the characters and practically every little thing about it. I even found myself chucking it off and then settling for that other book, which is the one below.

So it took me ten days to finish this slim book? Oh well. It was really a struggle for me. Write-up to follow.

Ghostwritten by David Mitchell

Date Started: June 24, 2012. 7:40 PM.
Date Finished: July 3, 2012. 10:30 PM.
Book #37 of 2012

The part that completes the Ghostwritten circle.

The part that completes the Ghostwritten circle.

I have already written something about this, which is quite a feat because I usually delay my write-ups. I am trying to do that now, but I am swamped with a number of things to do, not to mention the list of pending write-ups screaming for my attention. There’s just so many books and so little time to read and write about them.

Home by Marilynne Robinson

Date Started: July 7, 2012. 11:00 PM.
Current Page: 108 of 325
Book #38 of 2012

Rev. Boughton, Jack, and Glory: memorable characters from Gilead.

Rev. Boughton, Jack, and Glory: memorable characters from Gilead.

Just a few weeks back, I listened to the audio book of Gilead. I have already read that maybe two years ago, and I am amazed that I found my heart skipping a few beats whenever I come across passages that I love. I was then prompted to read Home, which is a sort of sequel. I was thumbing through my copy with a little apprehension before I started. I was afraid that my appreciation for this would be affected because I am currently reading another book, which is the book below, and it might be the same experience as that of Last Orders.

But after twenty or so pages, I was able to settle comfortably and realized that it doesn’t matter whatever the circumstances are. A good book can still be enjoyed even if other books are competing for your attention. So yes, you can just imagine the joy that I have now, reading two of my favorite authors at the same time and recently finishing one from another.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Current Page: 113 of 245

Oh, Mr Stevens! How could you break my heart again?

Oh, Mr Stevens! How could you break my heart again?

I have already read this last year, and I am rereading it in full for our book club. It’s my first time to do a full reread. Gilead is a different case because the second visit is on audio. With Remains, it’s back to the full text.

Actually, I also listened to the audio book version a couple of weeks back. Now I can say that reading the paper book is better than listening to the audio book. Although listening has its pros and conveniences, I think reading far outweighs the whole experience that it offers.

So yes, I was utterly moved again by Mr Stevens’s dilemma during the conference of March 1923 at Darlington Hall. I would find it hard to understand if nothing in the reader is stirred. Never mind that he is angered by it. At least some emotion should be drawn; otherwise, he is not human, I daresay.

* * * * *

The Sunday Salon

I have thought of writing about what makes a reader reread his books, but I have to reserve that one for a future write-up since I have only half-baked thoughts on it. To give me some ideas or something to perch my thoughts upon, what do you think of the whole rereading thing?

Do you think it’s a waste of time? Do you think it brings new insights or changes your whole view of the book? Is it worth spending time on an already read book that a promising unread one?

The Sunday Salon - June 25, 2012

Reading: Absalom, Absalom!; Last Orders; Ghostwritten

I’m trying to catch up on my June books. There’s only a week left so what I did was to finish the Faulkner book that I started last week and practiced bigamy on the remaining two books.

Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

Date Started: June 17, 2012. 12:00 AM.
Date Finished: June 23, 2012. 1:00 AM.
Book #35 of 2012
The Classics Challenge: Book #05 of 75

Where Sutpen Hundred is

Where Sutpen Hundred is

I was totally swept away by this book, not while I was reading it but a few minutes after I closed it and brooded on the events. I breathed deeply, let out a sigh, muttered something like ohmygod, and felt a little ache in my heart.

Faulkner’s prose works its effect right after the whole thing blows ever. I still cannot assume that I fully understood the novel, but what the hey, I don’t care. I love it. I love it, I love it!

Write-up to follow.

Last Orders by Graham Swift

Date Started: June 24, 2012. 2:00 PM.
Current Page: 61 of 295
Book #36 of 2012

Vince, the son, ain't the main narrator

Vince, the son, ain’t the main narrator

It was a little hard to get into this because it strongly reminds me of the last one-star novel that I finished. I do not wish to mention the title but it’s about an alcoholic who dies and the people close to him talk about his life and stuff like that.

The protagonist of Last Orders, Jack Dodds, is less of an alcoholic than a frequent customer of a bar. In here, he requests anyone it may concern that his ashes be scattered on some harbor. The people who take on this request are three of his friends and his son. They ride on a luxurious Mercedes, one which Jack will approve, and talk about their dead friend and their own wives and whatnot.

The novel’s chapter headings alternate between the narrating character and the place they are currently on. The narrator of the “place” characters is Ray, one of Jack’s friends. Why him? Why not the son?

Ghostwritten by David Mitchell

Date Started: June 24, 2012. 7:45 PM.
Current Page: 35 of 436
Book #37 of 2012

This is going to be a world tour

This is going to be a world tour

I’ve agreed to read this along with my super loyal book buddy Atty. Monique. We’re going to do one chapter a day, so that will be nine days, which means I won’t be finishing my June reading on time. But that’s okay because this is a Mitchell book.

As always, the writing is amazing. The description is pitch-perfect, and we are only at the first chapter. The description at the first page of my edition says that it’s a novel in nine parts. I assume that the chapters can be standalone stories. I felt that way after finishing the first chapter.

I wonder what David Mitchell cannot do. This is my fourth reading of him. I will try my best to be objective (read: not act like a fangirl), but what can I do? He really is good!

* * * * *

The Sunday Salon

My PC broke down! It didn’t die instantaneously. It was a gradual process. First, the optical drive stopped working properly. I ignored it. Then the power supply. I replaced it with a new one. Then the LCD monitor. I replaced it with a LED monitor. Then the video card. I thought of replacing it. Then it just went on and off at its own whim, like it were a sickly patient slipping in and out of consciousness.

I was so mad at it for dying on me just when I needed it for some video editing. The last time that it worked properly was while I was in the middle of typing my write-up of The Grapes of Wrath (it turned off by itself and I was not able to save what I typed). I realized though that I’ve been abusing it for the last five years. I finished my undergraduate computer system on it, I downloaded my art films and classical music on it, I played my games on it. I wrote some fiction and most of my blog posts on it (because sometimes, I write them at our office when I don’t want to work). So yes, my computer has done good.

And I never gave my computer a name (someone said that I should give computers their names)!

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about getting a laptop, something that is sturdy and economical. Some of my office mates recommended Dell and Asus. One office mate told me to steer clear off HP and Compaq due to overheating issues. I secretly desire a Sony.

How about you? What do you think? Do you have any recommendations? By the way, you might think that this is completely irrelevant since it has nothing to do with books, but this will affect my blogging activities, and that is mainly why I am yakking about this.

Books To Read: June 2012

Books To Read: June 2012

Would you believe that I finished all my May books, plus the backlogs, before posting this monthly reading plan? It’s a first! This is an achievement, no? Although I did not finish the last book on May 31, 11:59 PM, at least I managed to clear up before coming up with another plan. So I guess the next step would be to finish the following books on the dot, don’t you think?

  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien – Our book club’s book of the month. I am now reading it, as mentioned in my post yesterday. I was a little bored with all the text before the first chapter, even the prologue. I even entertained the notion that this might not be like my The Hobbit experience at all, but once I got into the first chapter, I threw all such notions away.
  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout – A Pulitzer winner. I’ve heard mixed reactions on this one. Some say it’s a thoughtful novel, others say it’s a boring one. I wonder what I’d think of it? I barely have an idea on what it is, which is just so me. I wonder when will I start seriously reading others’ reviews before deciding to read a novel?
  • Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner – My selection for this month’s Noble Nobel Project, a project hosted here. By the way, I am the sole participant of this project since first, I never really pushed it to other bloggers, and second, I feel like reading the Nobels should be more of a personal journey than anything else. The selections are so vast that one can get lost in merely selecting what to read. Anyway, I picked Faulkner for this month because it’s been so long since I had a taste of the rich Faulknerian narrative: intricate, winding sentences that might not be sentences at all, but long fragments of consciousness.
  • Last Orders by Graham Swift – A Booker winner. It has something to do with doing the last wishes of a person who recently died, hence Last Orders. Since there seems to be a funeral in it, perhaps this was inspired by my disastrous reading of Charming Billy. no?
  • Ghostwritten by David Mitchell – I haven’t really planned on reading this novel yet since I just read Number9Dream a few months back, but who could resist a fellow fan on reading this together? Yes, I’ll be doing another buddy reading with my buddy Monique, and I hope that we enjoy this one as much as we did with The Land of Green Plums.

I think this set is well-balanced. There’s adventure, there’s drama, there’s a classic. And I confess this: I’m a little scared of Faulkner even though this is not my first encounter with him. Anyway, I’m going to do this!

Last Orders – Graham Swift

Last Orders - Graham Swift

Last Orders - Graham Swift

Who bought it: Me.

What is it: It is about the last orders of someone. Okay, the only last order that I remember from the blurb is that his ashes must be thrown somewhere. I also remember that there are four executors of these last orders.

When: August 7, 2011

Where: Book Sale – SM Mall of Asia

Why: It’s a Booker winner. I once saw a copy of this before at another second-hand book store, but the price was too high for something that is used. I passed on it that day, and when I decided to buy it anyway, it was already gone. Good thing that I found a cheaper copy.

How much: Php 75.00

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