Tuesday, July 05, 2011

saints and literary sinners

June was a special month: I only read one book, and I gave up on two. I’m usually really stubborn about finishing books, but I’m trying out this new fuck-you attitude. So I said a (respectful) fuck-you to The Sound and the Fury. I’m sure it was very original in its time, but I had to Google the plot to figure out what the hell was going on, and when my car’s CD player refused to play disc five, I decided that my car was performing an act of passive resistance. Who am I to argue with the literary tastes of a wise old Honda Civic?

I did see a really good play this weekend, though: 100 Saints You Should Know at the Elephant Theatre. Written by Kate Fodor and discovered for us by Christine, it’s about a scholarly, uptight priest who decides he’s had enough of the theoretical God and longs for the more touchy-feely spiritual experience that comes from, well, actually touching other humans now and then (but not in a creepy way). Cheryl Huggins and Kate Huffman as the rectory cleaning lady and her teenage daughter, respectively, are great playing everything he’s not: warm, impulsive, profane. What they all have in common is a desire to feel something bigger than they are—something pure and unconditional, electric and earthy. The pacing of the production feels a little off at the beginning, but the play is definitely worth catching if you’re looking to avoid the Westside in a cultured way on Carmageddon weekend.

Anyway, so here’s what I did manage to read, in addition to 12 student stories and a lot of Facebook updates:

Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier: The teens at the center of this historical novel have good old-fashioned virtually parent-less Dickensian fun in late 18th century London: They fall in puppy love, work in factories, avoid the fallout of the French Revolution and get knocked up by smooth-talking circus troupers. I liked the gritty glee running through this book, and I enjoyed loud, curious Maggie Butterfield as a heroine. But I wasn't so into William Blake as next door neighbor and literary gimmick. Although his innocence/experience dichotomy did lend some thematic depth, mostly I wondered why historical fiction always has to be about famous people.


Claire said...

There's already too much out there to read in one lifetime, so I think it's ok to move on from books that aren't doing anything for you. I've only come to this in the past few years as I well understand the stubborn will to finish. It's sometimes exacerbated by my desire to tick off another finished book for my yearly count.

Raardvarks said...

"I wondered why historical fiction always has to be about famous people." So true!
I tend only to finish good books, so some people think I'm strange for loving every book I've ever (finished) reading!