Neither of the Grimes sisters would have a happy life, and looking back it always seemed that the trouble began with their parents’ divorce.
So begins Richard Yates’ The Easter Parade, a novel that is by turns wry and bleak. Here are two more passages for the commonplace book:
But there was more to being an intellectual than a manner of speaking, more even than making the dean’s list every semester, or spending all your free time at museums and concerts and the kind of movies called “films.” There was learning not to be stricken dumb when you walked into a party full of older, certified intellectuals — and not to make the opposite mistake of talking your head off, saying one inane or outrageous thing after another in a hopeless effort to atone for whatever inane or outrageous thing you’d said two minutes before. And if you did make a fool of yourself at parties like that, you had to learn not to writhe in bed afterwards in an agony of chagrin.
[B]esides, college had taught her that the purpose of a liberal-arts education was not to train but to free the mind. It didn’t matter what you did for a living; the important thing was the kind of person you were.
This week’s reading in Dubliners yielded a commonplace book entry, too:
From “After the Race”:
Rapid motion through space elates one; so does notoriety; so does the possession of money.
From “Two Gallants”:
Though his eyes took note of many elements of the crowd through which he passed they did so morosely. He found trivial all that was meant to charm and did not answer the glances which invited him to be bold. He knew that he would have to speak a great deal, to invent and to amuse, and his brain and throat were too dry for such a task. The problem of how he could pass the hours till he met Corley again troubled him a little. He could think of no way of passing them but to keep on walking.
This coming week’s reading for the Dubliners MOOC / online book club comprises “Ivy Day in the Committee Room,” “A Mother,” and “Grace,” which leaves “The Dead” for the fourth and final week. (And, yes, that is a different edition than was featured in the picture in last week’s post. What can I say? I wanted endnotes and Colum McCann’s introduction. Totally worth it.)
Later this year, I have a MOOC about the healing power of literature, a topic that has interested me for more than fifteen years. Jonathan Bate, who will lead the course, served as one of the editors of Stressed, Unstressed, a volume that posits that reading poetry (here gathered under such categories as “stopping,” “grieving,” and “living with uncertainty”) acts like a readerly balm on emotional unease. Lab Girl moved from the shelves to a TBR pile because my daughter chose the title as her “prize” for the local library’s summer reading program. We’re hoping to shoehorn it into the four weeks before she and her sister depart for university. Fingers crossed! The Gaiman and Ackerman titles in the stack above are also recent acquisitions, and The Elementals (from the shelves) will be this evening’s companion, as I have already finished the following (unpictured) books from my (unpictured) stacks:
■ Wonder (RJ Palacio; 2012. Fiction.)
■ Fell, Volume 1, Feral City (Warren Ellis; 2007. Graphic fiction.)
■ Injection, Volume 1 (Warren Ellis; 2015. Graphic fiction.)
■ Trees, Volume 1 (Warren Ellis; 2015. Graphic fiction.)
■ The Curse of the Good Girl (Rachel Simmons; 2009. Non-fiction.)
Wonder, like Holes (Louis Sachar) and A Long Way from Chicago (Richard Peck) is one of those books for young-ish readers that begs to be a family read-aloud. Tender and touching, the story is being brought to the big screen next year.
Officially mad about Ellis, I am so looking forward to the second volumes of both Injection and Trees. Alas, there is no Volume 2 of Fell, which was easily the best graphic work I’ve read this year. (Speaking of graphic works, did you hear the nerd girl Squeeeeeeee! when I finished Issue #156 of The Walking Dead? “Wait until Rick gets a look at you…” Heh, heh, heh.)