And Now, We Take A Breather.

by Serge Bielanko

Hey. Sometimes I just wanna talk about books and maybe movies and maybe red wine. Not kids. Here is some random book chatter:

--- Yesterday I finished a novel by Thomas Hardy, JUDE THE OBSCURE. It was sort of heart-wrenching but without any real emotional connect... which made it feel somewhat distant to me the whole time. That's not my favorite quality in fiction. It would have made a fabulous Joy Division album, but it made for a weird read. Plus, I hated all the characters. I could go on, but I would hate to throw any spoilers into the mix here. Maybe you want to read it. You could do worse ( Marley and Me!...Psyche! I liked that book!)

Lets just say, I am glad I dove into it but by the end I was happy to lay the crabby thing down for this lifetime. It's not bad, mind you. Just astoundingly depressing. Hardy quit writing fiction forever after this one: so strong were reader's reactions to the (vague) sexuality and deep class divisions that anchor the themes.

--- I loved Hardy's FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD though. Just beautifully written. Some real thrilling natural descriptions here. One, a thunderstorm passage, is up there with Lear on the heath. From what I gather this book is seen as a bit more mainstream than JUDE. I don't know. Who decides these things? I read this one just prior to JUDE and wanted another dose of old English country living just like it(as one does!) Instead, with JUDE THE OBSCURE... I got a shaken can of fizzy sadness.

-- I am starting a long Dickens novel I haven't read. I love Charles Dickens so much that I have a lot of trouble reading other writers after I spend time with him. I won't list what I'm reading so no one spoils it for me. I will say this though... 12 pages in and its already *****. Sadly, I am a pretty slow reader so I may not hit the end til August. I think my Zoloft gives me ADD. Ugh.

--I recently bought crisp new copies of WAR AND PEACE by Tolstoy and DON QUIXOTE by Cervantes. They are right over there, at eye level, on our bookshelf. I glare at them twenty times a day, like a kid looking at his unfilled Christmas stocking. They are supposedly two of the greatest novels ever written and I have been eager to hit them up for many years now. I think this is going to be the year. Maybe after I finish A CHRISTMAS CAROL (psyche again!!). Has anyone ever done either opus? Do you think Violet would enjoy one or the other? (See...I always tie in Violet).

--About a year ago I read the novel, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, by Ron Hansen. Brad Pitt starred in the film not too long ago. Let me just say of the best novels I've ever read. Fascinating, riveting, engaging, blah blah blah. I finished it in a German hotel room by myself. For awhile after it ended I sat back on the bed and just fucking stared at the ceiling eating chocolate and drinking Coke Light. The final words of the book zipped around the room for a spell like flies high on dogshit. I'll never forget how sad I felt that night, sad it was all over forever for me. I love that feeling...I feel strangely lucky when it comes.

--I'd love to hear what you might be reading. I don't care what it might be. I bounce around but my favorites are the 19th century novels. Just let me know what you've been devouring... that's all.