I know, I know. I’ve been an absolutely horrible book blogger lately! To think thats its been about a week since the last time I was around the blogosphere! In my defense, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time at the hospital lately, dealing with some complications from the Bell’s Palsy, but I still feel awful – I’ve been neglecting my books (my babies!) as well as all of my favorite blogs! But, never fear – I’m back, and slowly making my way through the Google reader! And I promise – from now on, I’m going to be a better blogger! With that – on to the blogging!
Being in the hospital should mean a lot of time for reading. However, because of the Bell’s Palsy, I’ve been having some trouble with my right eye, mainly infection stuff that is actually quite gross and that I wish I didn’t have to deal with. Needless to say, eye issues have the horrible side effect of slowing down reading tremendously. But I’m on the mend and have some killer eye drops, so I’m ready to comment on…
“Expiation” from Short Stories by Edith Wharton was quite the interesting. Like quite a few people that are voracious readers, I also like to think of myself as a writer. So this short story, about a new author trying desperately to make it with a popular book, was quite intriguing to me. Mrs. Fetherel is a new author who believes she has written a book of outrage and scandal – and is rather proud of the book. However, when the book hits the stands, the most anyone can say about it is that is “nice”. This upsets Mrs. Fetherel, who wanted her book to rile feathers. This launches a discussion about the nature of the press on influencing books that hit the stands. Mrs. Fetherel knows, and is told by a variety of people, that if she can just get someone to denounce her book to the press, her sales and noteriety will skyrocket. In order to do this, she goes to a friend of hers, a Bishop from a neighboring town. ** SPOILER ** She then bribes the Bishop to slander her new book to the press in order to drive up her sales and increase her fame. She pays for a new chantry window to be installed in the Bishop’s church, a window that he’s been desiring for some time. ** END SPOILER ** The whole book was a rather interesting commentary on what makes a book famous and, perhaps more importantly, the lengths that an author will go to in order to see their book succeed. Although you very rarely (if ever) hear of authors paying for their books to be deemed scandalous anymore, it is true that the more press (good or bad) a book gets, the more likely it is to be read. I’m living proof, able to testify to that fact! I enjoyed the short story way, way more than I enjoyed Age of Innocence, perhaps because Wharton’s style lends itself more to a shorter format. But I was intrigued more in the twenty pages of the short story than in the 300 pages of the novel!
A writer who dares to show up the hollowness of social conventions must have the courage of her convictions and be willing to accept the consequences of defying society.
That view is as extinct as the post chaise and the packet ship – it belongs to a time when people read books. Nobody does that now; the reviewer was the first to set the example, and the public was only too thankful to follow it. At first people read the reviews; now they read only the publisher’s extracts from them. Even these are rapidly being replaced by paragraphs borrowed from the vocabulary of commerce. I often have to look twice before I am sure if I am reading a department store advertisement or the announcement of a new batch of literature.
It is the novelist’s hand which can our balm on countless human sufferings, or inoculate mankind with the festering poison of a corrupt imagination.
And, because I’ve been gone so long, and because it is Monday, after all:
How do you choose what do buy from your local bookstore? Do you have a list, or just browse? What is the selection in your book store like? Do you find what you’re looking for? Do you feel pressured to buy the kind of books the store makes prominent?
This weeks Musing Monday comes at a rather interesting time, as I haven’t been to a bookstore in quite some time, and miss it a lot! Ususally when I go to a bookstore, I try and make sure to give myself ample time. My “want to read list” is usually somewhere in my purse, as are most of my other wordly possessions, however there are some times that I never bother to take it out! I love the feeling of walking slowly, head at an angle, title and cover browsing until something catches my fancy. It usually doesn’t take long – I’m a sucker for good cover art! As far as feeling pressure – I’ve never once had that happen! I love looking at the staff picks, especially when I don’t agree – I’ve had more than my fair share of arguments with the staff of my local book store over whether or not a book deserves that coveted gold slip of paper with a review and *gasp* perhaps even a recommendation! This happens to be a bigger deal to me at The Raven, the local bookstore in Lawrence that deals largely with poetry collections. I’m just very particular when it comes to what poetry books I think deserve that front-shelf position! The Dusty Bookshelf is my other favorite independant bookstore in Lawrence (although there is also one in Manhattan, Kansas) because, as you can see from the picture below, it is a wonderful reading atmosphere! Just imagine curling up in those stacks – its about as good as life can get!
And, with that, I wrap up the post. To come later this week: my first ever Weekly Geeks, a review of Monique and the Mango Rains (as soon as I finish it, which shouldn’t take too long because I’ve only got about 30 pages left), my thoughts on Sense and Sensibility as well as my trip to the rare books and manuscripts library on campus! Happy reading!