Sunday, August 13, 2006

Book meme

The lovely Belle Lettre of the up-and-coming "blawg" (taxonomies be damned, Belle: they say "toe-may-toe," I say "toe-mah-toe") Law and Letters, about which I am pleased to say, I knew it when, has tagged me to participate in a book meme. Seeing as tomorrow begins my faculty's beginning-of-the-semester meetings, this seems most appropriate.

I tried (but failed) to keep my replies short so as not to tax my reader(s)--I suspect Belle's post influenced me. So, I've placed my responses below the fold. Though you're excused from reading, you do want to check to see whom I've tagged.


1. One book that changed your life.
I have three separate posts somewhere hereabouts precisely on this topic. But when I read this one at Belle's site this morning, the first book I thought of was one that my father gave me as a Christmas present when I was middle-school aged: Great Short Works of Jack London. I know that he had given me books before, but this is the first one I remember the actual giving of. That, and what he said as he gave it to me: "This writer paints with words." He never said that about another book or writer. It was my favorite book for many, many years, and it was one of the books I took with me to college. It may be that it was this collection that planted the seed that became the subsequent madness in me that made me susceptible to wanting to become an English teacher.

2. One book you have read more than once. One, huh? I'll choose Walden here because one of the reasons I've read it more than once, apart from assigning it to a class, is that it continues to surprise and engage me.

3. One book you would want on a desert island
Does Remembrance of Things Past count as one book? If I were on a desert island with it, I might manage to get past Swann's Way.

4. One book that made you laugh.
Huckleberry Finn. Still. Every time, and there have been many times.

5. One book that made you cry.
Huckleberry Finn. Still. Every time, and there have been many times. But in case that's cheating, you can pretend I said Beloved. When I read that final scene between Paul D and Sethe where he reaffirms his love for her, I actually started sobbing.

6. One book you wish you had written. Well, this would be a long, long list. If the standard here is care with language, then Blood Meridian, no question. No one I know of describes the Southwest and its inhabitants like he does. If the standard is the richness of the world the novel creates, then my choice is One Hundred Years of Solitude.

7. One book you wish had never been written. Across the River and into the Trees. This was toward the end of the string for Hemingway, and it shows. The writing is as exhausted as its protagonist and the plot. Truly painful, especially for those who admire the vitality of Papa's earlier, better-known novels.

8. One book you are currently reading. Frog, by Stephen Dixon. It's hard to say just what this novel is about in terms of plot, but as near as I can say its subject is the turning of a life into art . . . and the turning or art into a life. Oh: and that "Frog" is the novel's nickname for Howard Tetch, though no one in the novel has yet to use it. Strange, yes, but Dixon's skill in juggling all this is such that you want to keep reading to see how this is all going to "conclude," if that's the proper term for this novel.

9. One book you have been meaning to read. Again I ask: only one? Well: the one that seems to have been on this list the longest is James McBride's The Color of Water. Mrs. Meridian says it should fit well with my book project; apart from that, though, I have yet to hear anyone say anything bad about this book.
10. Tag five people. Some different folks this time: Debra of Find the Beauty . . ., f-i-n of Sunshine State, Aunty Marianne of Tomato and basil Sandwiches, Winston of Nobody Asked . . . , and Joel of Cup o' Joel.

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6 comments:

Winston said...

Groan...
Nevermind me. I always complain, but usually comply...

Joel said...

I am tagged! It hoits! It hoits!

Later this week. Cool meme. I'm pleased to be tagged...

Joel said...

The tag has been fulfilled. I had to wrestle a bit with the answers -- and what I came up with surprised me a bit. I fear, in fact, that it's a touch pedestrian. Nonetheless, the answers are the best I have to offer ... today.

fin said...

Thanks for the cool tag. I need to think about it....

Winston said...

Have not forgotten... just extremely busy, but thinking and working on it...

Winston said...

It is done... I do apologize for the delay...