Sunday, 25 May 2008

The Sunday Saloon: how to stare defeat in the face

The week started with such high hopes. It was the week of the big book. The choice was David Foster Wallace’s Infinitive Jest. Given it fluffs up to over 1000 pages and get your glasses out print, this was seriously big. Not a problem… snitch to read over a fortnight max… right? Wrong, a clear case of the Hubris blues. Try snatching the odd chapter and page on trains and between meetings and the enormity of the book’s themes and construction soon hits you between the ears. When reduced to running a spreadsheet on the POV, format, period… (you get the picture) of each chapter, you know its time to throw in the towel. So crawl away and abandon? No, I retreated and retrenched to order Elegant Complexity: A Study of David Foster Wallace's 'Infinite Jest’ by Greg Carlisle. Yes, it is over 500 pages but I get a bird’s eye view of the book and explanations. As they say…Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.

Sadly, to defer left me in crisis… no book to face the two-hour journey home. Summoning up the loins (no sniggers in the back please) I went fourth to buy a book (yes I know 900 books at home unread but give a guy a break). This forced me to have to spend time in bookshops and one of these was at the LSE (a seriously prestigious university). What caught my eye was Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore. This examines the early history of Stalin before entered the Soviet Government. The failure of democratic politics in Russia fascinates me as much as its counterpart of the failure of Western revolutions. And don’t get me started on why the USA alone failed to create a political party of labour in the late 19th.

Finishing Young Stalin book and reading yet another LibraryThing Early Reviewers book is the plan this week. I have The Collector of Worlds by Ilya Troyanov which is about Richard Burton- translator of 1001 Arabian Nights not … Other reviews in the pipe line is the free Henry James penguin classic when it finally comes(Surely not a publicity sham?) and Yellow Fever a book sent by the writer for me to review.

It’s a public holiday weekend here so its weather warning rain of course. Hope its better where you are and that you have a great week.


  1. I haven't gotten my free penguin book yet either, but I do think they'll eventually arrive. It would be an awfully strange publicity stunt if they don't come.

  2. Waves at Kathleen, well so far not come across anyone on three different sites who have received one


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