Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Back to the Books

After three posts where I attempted, with questionable success, to expound some of my views on the importance of what we read and why, I'll now return to the original and primary goal of this blog: writing about the books and authors I'm reading and that I feel have significance.

After reading the first volume of Jack Kerouac's selected letters almost ten years ago, I started reading the second volume the other day.  Now, I have owned the second volume since it's release yet I have been carefully avoiding it as I knew what I was in for.  Where the first volume charts the development of a writer, and his letters acting as a primary means of developing his style, the second volume charts his trajectory after reaching his personal apex.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Last Point, for Real

I intended to make the last post the final post on that particular topic but this caught my eye this morning and I wanted to share it.


It fits the theme of my posts regarding the ubiquity of entertainment in general, and the types of books people read in particular.  Books can uncritically be fit into the same lump as one of those activities to "kill time," but that changes with the type of book being read.  The same could be said of types of music or types of movies, but the target of these posts is primarily on reading.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


After receiving an email from a friend regarding my previous post I realized I unintentionally sowed the seeds to a justifiably easy rebuttal.

The essence of the email was that the authors I mentioned, as well as other figures such as Joyce, Kerouac as well as many other 20th century figures not mentioned but easily implied, even if they had a period of wider public admiration, have fallen into a niche, "elite" reading now, and this may be the continuing trend and may even be for the best.

Books and Society

Our modern entertainment industry, including the developments in the publishing industry, has blossomed into its predictable end: a key means to maintain the social status quo.  What better tool could there be to maintain a specific social and economic system than to prevent time for reflection by filling it with superfluous time-killers?  Entertainment, the primary means to fill time between workdays, grows by the day, with ever more spaces being filled.  There has been an explosion of portable media players, social networking programs that limit in-depth discussion (all apologies to the true craftspeople of aphorisms, but what can really be said in a 140 character Twitter feed?), and dominant types of traditional media, such as books and film.

Now this is the natural progression of a capitalist economy.  A day spent in toil leads to an increased use of downtime to "turn on, tune in, and drop out," and the entertainment industry has met this demand, providing a means to relax while keeping the mind busy enough so that it doesn't have time to question.  Now, this isn't a conspiracy.  My use of the word "tool" above was to achieve simplification, but this device differs from a true tool in that nobody consciously wields it.  There is no person behind the curtains pulling the strings.  It is part of the logical development of our socioeconomic system and it affects the CEO of a Fortune 500 company as much as a grocery store cashier.

So, as this is a book blog, where does reading fit in?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Simenon Interview

Here's an interesting interview with Georges Simenon from the Paris Review where he describes the origins of his style, his working method, and the differences between his commercial works and his more stark "romans durs."  I discovered Simenon through one of his "hard novels," Dirty Snow (also available translated as "The Stain on the Snow"), but have read his more commercial work since and can safely say I haven't read anything that didn't impress me, with Dirty Snow in particular being profoundly disturbing.  Enjoy.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Correction, or A New Approach

Something didn't sit well in my initial post regarding my favourite authors.  While yes, they are my favourites, I don't think it gives an accurate representation of what my interests are.  Instead, I want to make a brief list of what I'm currently reading and what I have recently read.  I feel this will provide a better idea of my reading habits.

A hello to whoever

Well, for a first post I thought I might describe what I envisioned when I created this blog.

First, I envision few, if any hits or followers.  It's more of another place to jot down thoughts and ideas spurred on by what I'm reading, though film and music may also come into play.

Second, as suggested above, it's primarily a place to write about what I read, and would ideally become a place where the books and ideas triggered by them can be commented on and discussed in a positive way.  It's not a forum to argue, though any negative comments are encouraged as long as they are respectful and constructive.

Now, as far as the reading material goes, it is very eclectic.  I do not mean that it's random as I see a common thread running through it all, and that is that I view books as a vital part of understanding the world.  The posts will include works within many genres of fiction, history and politics, philosophy, poetry, current events...essentially the entire gamut of what pen has put to paper.