Sunday, October 6, 2019

Sunday Salon


My Classics Club spin choice was Edith Wharton's The Custom of the Country. It's very good: post coming soon. But Indiana Frusk, Mabel Blitch, and Undine Spragg! I am very glad I don't come from Apex City if I was going to be saddled with a name like that.

Nobel Prize Watch

This is the week. The Swedish Academy were really trying for a while there to destroy the mystique of the Nobel Prize in Literature, but I still get excited for the Thursday announcement. When I was an undergraduate a friend told me I should try to read a living author before winning the Nobel prize. I think that was when I had a stack of Elias Canetti under my arm. But in my defense I was a classics major...

The Italians have a word -- papabile -- for somebody who could plausibly be elected pope. And I do now sometimes read those who could be considered nobelabile, instead of just laureates. The betting shops put Anne Carson on the inside track this year, who would be a very good choice, but I just read the newest (in translation) by one of my favorites, Claudio Magris.

It's a collection of very short essays or observations, from his travels or from around Trieste, and often poignant or funny or both.

Currently Reading

I piled up a stack of books for #1930club earlier this week and started one of the two long ones: Holbrook Jackson's The Anatomy of Bibliomania.

I'm also reading Erich Fromm's The Art of Loving along with Cleo.

Where I Was

We went to New Hampshire to visit my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. The other thing I'm reading these days is Moby Dick for Brona's readalong, and while Portsmouth, NH, may not quite be the fons et origo of New England whaling, it ain't so far neither. I hadn't paid any attention to it before, but we were greeted by a whale welcome mat, and that wasn't the only opportunity for a #mobydickinthewild picture:

Hope all's well with you!

Thanks to DebNance at Readersbuzz for hosting the Sunday Salon.


  1. Now Moby Dick is haunting you. Until Virgil pops up again (when you least expect it...EXPECT IT).

    I hope the next Nobel laureate for fiction is not from an English speaking country (sorry Anne). I enjoyed it when Patrick Modiano won. The last time an Italian won was in the 90s says Wikepedia.

    1. It's nice when it's somebody whose books aren't readily available in English wins, because then they show up in English. There's been a torrent of Modiano books, and that's been great. Do you have any preferred candidates?

    2. I'm rooting for Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. I would like to read his books and if winning the award gives me that be it! But really, I have no clue. Anyone I would think of would probably be from an English speaking country anyway. :D

    3. Ngugi wa Thiong'o would be a good choice, but it's true: I'd probably be most happy if it was somebody I didn't know at all.

    4. Postscript: I am pretty happy about Olga Tokarczuk back-dated win for 2018. I tried to read Flights earlier this year but couldn't get a handle on it - too disjointed. However I really want to try one of her novels!

      I'd never heard of Peter Handke but just learned he co-wrote Wings of Desire with Wim Wenders. I haven't seen the movie in decades but I loved it and Paris, Texas as a teenager/20-something. So I am curious about his novels now.

    5. I liked Flights, but I did find it a bit disjointed, too. And the body parts stuff made me a bit squeamish. But I liked it enough to put my name on the hold list for Tokarczuk for the new one a few months ago and now I'm getting close.

      Like you all I have experience of Handke is Wings of Desire, which I also thought was great. I gather his politics the last 20 years have been pretty dodgy. But one of his books was reissued by New York Review Books & I got that a while back, but haven't read it. I guess I should...

  2. I'm such a dud ... I've fallen sooo behind on Custom of the Country. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! I will TRY to catch up among all my other reads. Looking forward to your review.

    Thanks for joining in on the read-along. I must keep up on that. At least Moby Dick is on track for now.

    I've always wanted to go to New Hampshire in the fall to see the leaves. Ah, dreams!

    1. We will a little early for the leaves this year as it turned out. But I always figure it's best to see my sister-in-law in the middle of October for just that reason. (And my brother, who lives in California, in the middle of winter, because, well, who wants to be in Toronto in February!)

      The Custom of the Country is really good! You've got a treat ahead.

  3. Oh, Moby Dick. It's been a month now since I disembarked, and I'm beginning to miss it. Spooky to see all the Moby Dick paraphernalia. It must come from being so immersed in a book. Would it have happened if you were vacationing in a corn field in Kansas? I don't know.

    It's great fun to try to predict winners, I think. My students were our youngest readers, so we weren't up to predicting Nobel winners, but we always had a great time trying to anticipate Caldecott picture book winners. I do hope the committee stays away from elderly musical legends. That felt silly.

    The Claudio Magris book sounds intriguing. I shall add it to my list. And maybe the Holbrook Jackson, too. Just because.

    1. It's silly and pointless, but fun, to try to anticipate winners for something, and I usually hope they pick somebody I don't know at all, because then I can add them to my list. Mr. Zimmerman may or may not have been that great a choice, but in any case he was somebody I already knew all about...

      I keep racing ahead with Moby Dick and then backtracking a bit. It's a bit odd reading it over six months, and I'm sure I'll just finish it before February. It will be my second complete read (plus however much I managed in high school) and I'm liking it just as much as the previous time.