The lack of updates
Today is the last day of our semestral break for this year. Because my days of being able to read freely were dwindling, I sought to read as much as I could the previous week (thus the lack of updates). It has become a ritual during the past years; I don’t think anything is bad with attempting to expound the horizons of one’s mind, however.
For this semestral break, I have managed to pore through seven books within the past month. I don’t think I did badly.
After my marathons of Dexter and ToLoveRu, the only anime series I have been following was ToraDora. I also downloaded episodes from a lot of currently-airing anime, although I haven’t watched most of them (other than two episodes of Gundam 00 S2). I have downloaded episodes of Kurozuka recently, especially with lolikitsune’s suggestion that it was verisimilar to Code Geass. I have not watch the bulk of currently-airing anime primarily because I spent time reading those extracurricular novels: after all, it is only during the short breaks can I read these without being pressed upon by academic requirements. Despite still being the final week of the semestral break, I have been pressed upon by the requirements of the NMAT as its deadline for the submission of its application forms is nearing.
I have also abstained from writing anything while still reading William Faulkner’s Hamlet (and no, there is no ‘to be or not to be’ quip in here). I guess that while I’m often lacking in the discipline department I demand much of myself while reading novels (which may be why I finish a substantial number of them within a year). The reason is not because I find all the novels I read to be entertaining, or that I want to simply be a classicist; I simply believe in the principle that when one has started something he should try his best to see things through to the end. While I have my failings, even just in that basic principle, I’m glad that I have a batting average better than most people.
I have read George Gissing‘s Crown of Life and Frank Norris‘s Pit. I am quite happy that I have been able to stomach their prose (their works were magnificent, mind you), but even I had to read something that reminded me I was reading the classics. For this instance, the interpellation was Dale Oldham’s Giants Along my Path.
Giants was, of course, a very bad novel in terms of technical quality. It had little style; it was simply a man talking about his own life as a preacher: in short, it was an inspirational novel. Dale Oldham was a prominent preacher during his time, and all he wrote about was his life as Jesus’s servant. As literature, it was horrendous; for my purposes, however, it was just what I needed. I needed something to remind me what bad books were, and it totally gave me that: the novel was saccharine and pleasant, and those two adjectives aren’t something that could be found in most classics. In the end, this novel was good just as ToLoveRu is good.
Despite this, however, I plan to give Giants to a friend of mine. I’m quite the minority with regard to calling inspirational literature bad; I know a lot of people who love reading Mitch Albom, or The Purpose Driven Life. While I’m sure that the exhortatory words from these books rouse most people, all that these words come off for me is as the pinnacle of hypocrisy. That’s just me, however. Yet I sincerely hope that these books were written to truly inspire people from the bottom of their authors’ hearts, and not just to make money because that would be the basest thing.
There were only two more novels of note that I have read, and these were Faulkner’s Hamlet and Ian McEwan’s Cement Garden. The Hamlet was of note to me not because Faulkner astounded me yet again but because it was a good reminder of how frustrating Faulkner could be at times. Most people I know are either indifferent to Faulkner (they couldn’t care less) or hate him with such passion. If I hadn’t been patient enough, I would probably hate him too: as I may have noted before, I attempted reading The Sound and the Fury more than four times before I had finally penetrated what he was telling all along. It was a difficult process, but I had managed to plod into that novel little-by-little, as if I were wading through a quagmire.
Despite having read quite a few of his novels within the past year, I have still struggled through his heady, inebriating, and febrile prose that is his stylistic stamp. I can only read him when my mind is more or less at peace, and the past few days have been a maelstrom for me: in addition to procuring samples for our thesis and performing genetic extraction from their blood, I also had to procure the form for the NMAT. As a result, I wasn’t able to appreciate that novel of his. It also doesn’t help that The Hamlet was practically just a series of vignettes that portrayed the pernicious Snopes family. One should never read Faulkner while troubled.
Finally (at least, in terms of the novels I have read), Ian McEwan‘s Cement Garden was the best novel (for me, of course) I have read within the span of the month. Its story is quite simple; I believe, however, that the fact that there is incest in the novel is enough to snag most of you. Beyond that, however, is a well-told story about a young family coping with an irreplaceable loss. It is a short novel, and it is also Ian McEwan, so I highly recommend it. (Frankly, I found this novel more involving than his more popular Atonement. I may not have read the book, but I found the movie dragging in places: I assume the book is the same.)
P.S. Thank you, Daniel, for your kind words.