Posted tagged ‘David Mamet’

what I’m reading now

February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Day to you and yours!

I know most of you have been anxious about whether or not I finished The Village. I did. It pulled itself together somewhat at the end, but I think I’ll scratch David Mamet off my list of novelists to read going forward. (There are so many books, and a fellow can’t read them all in a single lifetime.)

So, you’re asking, what is he reading now?

Well, I have an anthology of Victorian-era detective stories on my nightstand that I’ve been dipping into off and on for months. It’s called The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (which, I should add is only one of many anthologies with that title, most of which I own and have read), and I’m nearly finished with it. So I decided that after I finished The Village, I would pick up Rivals and make my sprint to the finish arch.

Except I picked up a book on my to-be-read shelf to have just a quick look at the introduction. Pretty soon I had read the whole introduction and was started on the first chapter. And so the Rivals have a rival.

The book I am now reading is Roth Unbound: A writer and his books by Claudia Roth Pierpont. It is a literary biography of Philip Roth, which is to say it is about the influences, creation, and consequences of Roth’s writings more than it is about his life. I’m only just a short way into the book, but already it’s clear that much of his life has influenced his fiction, thus there is a good deal of biography included. That’s fine. Much of it I already knew, but every page offers some nugget of insight, which makes me appreciate his fiction more. (I suppose I’ve already told you that I’ve read his novel The Ghost Writer more than thirty times. Do you have one go-to book that never lets you down?)

Philip Roth is my favorite writer. I get the sense that every word, every bit of punctuation, is thought through and exactly right. Let me hasten to add, though, that Iris Murdoch is my favorite novelist, if you appreciate the distinction.

So I expect to make quick work of Roth Unbound, and then I’ll be on to the next book. Maybe Rivals. Maybe the next Murdoch novel in the series I’m re-reading from start to finish. Maybe something else altogether.

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approach/avoidance conflict

February 23, 2016

So I’m reading this book, The Village by David Mamet. I found it at a used book store a couple of weeks ago and was eager to immerse myself in Mamet’s writing world since he is known for his searing, snappy dialogue, and I thought I might learn a thing or two.

I’m not much liking it. There isn’t a whole lot of structure to it, and it’s often as difficult to understand who is speaking (or, more commonly, who is introspectively musing) as in a Faulkner novel. There really isn’t a lot of dialogue either. It’s mostly monologue. I’m about two-thirds of the way through it, and I think I have a few of the characters worked out in my mind, but then a new chapter starts and I’m adrift again.

So I’d like to just finish the thing, turn the last page and then put the book on my donation shelf. I want to get to the end. And I simultaneously don’t want to pick it up to read it. I want to get started on the next Iris Murdoch novel in my reading ambition, but I don’t want to give any time to this sluggish book that I really ought to finish first.

I’ll do it. I’ll read the book to the end. And then I’ll get rid of it and probably forget it and only console myself with the idea that at least I gave some money to one of the last surviving used book stores in Kansas City. And I’ll move on.

Update 25FEB2016: Despite emphatic advice that I just stop reading it, I actually hope to finish this novel tonight. Whether I pick up the Iris Murdoch novel or one of the many other books I brought home from Portland, I can’t say.