Recent Reading

Mostly I have been visiting the Sen Lin Hu website, thinking, post another damn picture of my daughter will you!

Of course she has been too busy to write, so I have no idea how she is or what she’s doing, except that if she were injured or having an asthma attack they would have contacted us.

We see her tomorrow afternoon — one downside of letting her take the bus home is that we don’t learn quite so much about what she’s been doing, how her learning was going, etc. All part of letting go, I suppose.

I finished Animal Vegetable Miracle a while ago, which I mostly enjoyed , so I decided to pick up The Poisonwood Bible, which everyone else read a long time ago. Especially in the end, you can see Kingsolver’s interest in food and nutrition and farming. At points it seems a little too strong, but perhaps that is only because I had just read AVM and could connect the dots a little too clearly.

I am learning about myself as a reader: as with so many things, I like a level of understatedness that is maybe unreasonable to expect. (Except when I like things crazy and in your face, of course.)

So in The Poisonwood Bible I got a little tired of Adah, the mute genius sister, and her palindromes and writing backwards and (what came to feel) affected profundity.

Still, it was a page turner (and I don’t mean that in the condescending way of, say, a Dan Brown novel), and on the last day of reading it I must have given over at least 4 hours, staying up til 1:30 am to finish it. Also, although the Adah thing became wearying — actually, the Rachel voice also seemed to become to heavily “Rachel” too — Kingsolver is a very good writer, as in prose stylist. Reminded me slightly of reading Virginia Woolf and thinking, “Dear God, I can never be a writer — look at how every word is so carefully chosen. Who can take that much time, let alone have that deep of a well of words? Serious envy. But that’s Virginia Woolf — who somehow can do crazy effects with her writing and never make me feel hit over the head. But we can’t all be Virginia Woolf — and we can’t expect every novel to be Mrs. Dalloway. (Thus perfectionism threatens to kill so many joys.)

Here is a nice tidbit from the Catholic priest gone slightly native, who is something of a foil to the Christian missionary whose family is the center of the book. He is talking about the difficulties of bringing the Bible to the Congo, and what gets lost in translation even into English. He says to one of the daughters:

Och, I shouldn’t be messing about with your thinking this way, with your father out in the garden. But I’ll tell you a secret. When I want to take God at his word exactly, I take a peep out the window at His Creation. Because that, darling, He makes fresh for us every day, without a lot of dubious middle managers.

Now I’m reading Mansfield Park, the most controversial of Austen novels. 😉 It is so hard to keep an open mind, after reading it a few times earlier and just really finding Fanny to be total weenie, and Edmund — oh man. This time around, I like Fanny better but I’m a little more grossed out by the tutor-pupil relationship and Edmund’s desire to make Fanny think just like him. Like Emma and Mr. Knightly, but with no fun.

No no — open mind. Open mind.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Recent Reading

  1. I find the idea of camp sending photos and stuff kind of weird, myself. but maybe that’s me and my strange ability to just let her go off. I wonder if their existence creates a kind of desire/need to check though.

    Haven’t read Poisonwood Bible in ages but remember liking it. Love a,v, m. which might be obvious given the recent foray into pigs and chickens.

  2. sorry you are missing her girl. I haven’t sent Zoe off to camp yet.

  3. I don’t think I could survive sending my dd to camp!

    Now, I know I’ve harassed you on twitter about this, but I really believe Jane Austen meant for Fanny and Edmund to be a dull and slightly creepy version of Emma and Knightley. I think she was making a point. I think her sympathies were with the other characters and she was, with Fanny and Edmund, showcasing something she saw was considered “good” in society but which she did not like herself. Perhaps she wrote Emma as a foil to it, to convince herself that it could be good maybe? I just think, knowing how mindful and witty a writer Jane was, she would not have written a character like Fanny, about whom she obviously didn’t care much, without some narrative purpose.

    I’ll leave it there, you’re probably sick of me and my theories!

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