Thursday, June 05, 2008

Boyish book binge (which is different from a bookish boy binge)

I'm on a short boyish book binge. Now reading Victory by Joseph Conrad, for reasons I've already mentioned. It's really wonderful, actually, thoroughly enjoyable. My last memory of reading Conrad was loathing Lord Jim and never actually finishing it (which was actually part of the reason it took me so long to get around the Lucky Jim [no relation]), so I am pleasantly surprised. I suspect my dislike for Lord Jim, however, had something to do with nautical themes and me being twenty. I'll be rereading Heart of Darkness this summer, and so I'm pleased that my Conrad context will be just a bit wider. Anyway, Victory. All day I've been struck by the line, "For the use of reason is to justify the obscure desires that move our conduct, impulses, passions, prejudices and follies, and also our fears."

Next book on my list is Engleby by Sabastian Faulks, because Emily Perkins mentioned it in my interview with her. I am looking forward to that, and an author entirely new to me (and a buzzy one, because of James Bond).

So yes, two novels by men. As the last twenty-one novels I've read have been by women, this intervention was probably necessary. I do try to read men's fiction once in a while, just to keep vaguely abreast of things. They're not really for me, of course, but I do it for the sake of fairness. You'd be surprised how much good stuff there really is, actually, particularly once you move away from the more peculiar fixations (dogs, and cigars, and warfare). Some of it I can even identify with, though I'm not sure I'd call it literature exactly. There's just never enough linoleum for it to qualify as that.