Posts Tagged ‘read-along’
A few weeks (months?) ago, I had the good fortune to be asked to join Claire from Kiss A Cloud, Claire from Paperback Reader, and Nymeth from Things Mean A Lot in a little group read-along of Love by Toni Morrison. I was thrilled for the opportunity because Toni Morrison is an author whom I feel I can always stand to read more of, but rarely feel confident enough to do so on my own prodding. Still, I’ve dutifully gone out and procured as many copies of her various books that I can find (my only requirement being that they are not horrifically ugly, because there are some less than covet-worthy editions of her books floating about out there) during my frequent bookstore visits. I then proceed to stockpile these books, happy in the knowledge that I have more Toni Morrison ahead of me. But of course, books are meant to be read, and it’s always good when others remind me of this, so this was the push I needed to get back on the Morrison love train (no pun intended, as I didn’t capitalize the “L” in “love”).
I’m not sure that if given my own druthers that Love would have been the next Morrison I would have attempted, simply because I still haven’t read Beloved, which is Morrison’s masterpiece and I know I need to read it. So I always say it will be my next read, and then, well, as you can see, it isn’t! That said, I’m really glad that I did read Love because it was a really interesting and compelling novel, and it certainly broadened my notion of who Toni Morrison is as an author in several ways.
First, I need to start off by apologizing for being so late to the party with this section. July was an incredibly hectic month for us over here at Steph & Tony Investigate in real life, what with getting married, so I kind of let my reading slide for a while… and then when I knew I should be picking up 2666 and tackling Part Three, I kind of just didn’t have it in me. I know, I know, I’ve been a terrible co-hostess, but thank you so much to Claire for taking one for the team and rounding up all of your thoughtful and insightful reflections on “The Part About Fate”. I think as we’re about to see, you all came up with a lot more than I did with respect to this section…
So, what to say about this section? Well, as I mentioned above, I was really dragging my heels when it came to getting around to actually reading this part, and I attribute this largely to Section Two. If you recall, I found Section Two really aimless and I didn’t get a lot out of it, and I really felt like it sapped my momentum and eagerness to keep reading 2666. If it were not for the read-along, I probably would have stopped reading after Section Two, so little was my interest in continuing this massive tomb, especially if it were more in the vein of Section Two, which really felt was impenetrable.
Meh. This part of the ubernovel, 2666, may have been the shortest, but I also felt it was far less rewarding and rich compared to Part One. We delve into the world of Amalfitano, a Chilean whom the scholars in the last part met briefly, first chronicling his relationship with his wife (and her obsession with a poet who has been committed to an asylum), and then focusing on Amalfitano’s own mounting obsession with a mysterious geometry textbook (yes, you read that correctly). At 60 some odd pages, this section lent itself to a quick read, but I didn’t feel I got much out of it.
First, I didn’t feel like this second part was a natural extension or progression of part one. It didn’t seem to further any of the plot points that occurred in The Part About the Critics, but moreover, it didn’t appear to deal with any of the same themes either. Well, that’s not strictly true – I suppose we see the notion of pursuit highlighted once more, as Lola sets out to find the mad poet and ingratiate herself into his life, but that was about the only part that felt like an echo of earlier parts of 2666. But even if we consider that perhaps Bolaño meant these parts to stand more on their own, I still felt this wasn’t all that successful, because it seemed to be divided into the Lola section and the Geometry Book section, and these two sections felt disparate from one another as well. Not sure how the two reflect upon one another, but then again, I’m not entirely sure what the section regarding the geometry book was supposed to be about at all. I admit, I like the quirky idea of hanging a book outside oneself to withstand the elements as best it can, but did I have any idea what it was meant to symbolize? No. I mentioned in my last wrap-up that I wasn’t confident that Part One could truly stand on its own, that it told a complete story, and that is definitely even more true for this section.
Just wanted to remind all of you that as the month draws to a close I (and many others) will be posting a review of Part Two (The Part About Amalfitano) of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666. I just finished it yesterday and need a bit of time to sort out my thoughts, but I can’t wait to hear what the rest of you think! To those of you toying with the notion of joining us, I will say that Part Two is the shortest part in the book, coming in around 60 pages. So even if you haven’t started reading it yet, there’s still time! After all, I’m sure most of you read far more than 60 pages in a single day!
Also, if you need more incentive, check out some of the insightful posts other members of the read-along posted last month on Part One. Everyone seemed to pick up on something slightly different, and it was really edifying to apply their ideas to my own reading of the text. This is definitely a book best shared and discussed with others!
Full Disclosure: I finished reading this section a few weeks ago so that I could mull over questions and thoughts to pose to fellow readers… only I didn’t really write anything down, so my impressions of this section are not as sharp and clear as they might have been a few weeks ago, when I probably should have written this post. Oh well, if I seem tentative or like I’m futzing about, we’ll consider it an exercise in style and homage to Bolaño himself. At least I’ll have 4 more attempts to get this right! Also, I want to emphasize that Claire and I are using this opportunity to make 2666 a more communal reading experience, but people are free to read at their own pace. We’re reading one section per month, and ask that you try to post your thoughts on each section within each month… But of course if you fall behind, that’s completely fine and we still want to hear what you thought! If you haven’t started but would like to join along, please feel free! Just post a comment at the bottom of this post linking to your review of Part One, and I’ll be sure to link to it. And for people who already said they were going to read along, if I haven’t included your review but it’s been posted (or you post after I’ve published this), please do the same and I’ll be sure to add you to this round-up!
When I think back on this first part of 2666, the thing that sticks out to me was how much I didn’t hate it! That sounds strange, I know, given that I elected to host this read-along with Claire, but I really feared going into the belly of the beast (or at this point, the maw… the belly is yet to come, I think!). I worried that I would really dislike the book. From what I had read about the book during the 2009 Tournament of Books, it did not at all sound like a book I would enjoy, since the two commentators over at The Morning News found the book bloated, boring, sexist, homophobic, and generally a mess. I worried the book would be pretentious and unapproachable, but seeing that I already had a copy of it in my apartment, I knew I had to at least give it a shot before excising it from my life; it was only fair. Enter Claire whose enthusiasm to read the book was almost infectious, and I decided that maybe if I had a buddy going into this read, maybe if I didn’t commit myself to exclusively reading the book non-stop until it or I was done, that would be the best way to tackle it. And thus, a read-along was born.
To those of you who missed the announcement a few weeks ago, Claire & I are hosting a read-along of Roberto Bolaño’s mammoth masterpiece, 2666. Don’t fret if you haven’t started yet – we’re only reading the first part, “The Part About The Critics”, this month. It’s only 160 pages, so you still have plenty of time to join us if you would like. Personally, I haven’t even started yet, but probably will in the next few days!
So far, here are the people joining us:
- Christina @ Jackets & Covers
- Jackie @ Farm Lane Books
- Emily A
- nateG @ Confounded Racket
- Gavin @ Page247
- Vasilly @ 1330v
- Frances @ Nonsuch Book
- Chris @ Stuff As Dreams Are Made On…
- Emily @ Evening All Afternoon
- Richard @ Caravana de Recuerdos
- E.L. Fay @ This Book And I Could Be Friends
- and maybe Rebecca @ Rebecca Reads
So come on and join us! You want to be one of the cool kids, right?
In other news, sorry for the dearth of updates recently. I was away at an academic conference (where we discovered the answer to “how many vision scientists with iPhones does it take to select a restaurant for dinner?” is in fact “3”) and enjoying some serious beach time in Naples, Florida. But I’m back in drizzly Nashville once more, and will attempt to get my reading (and updating) back on track. I lugged along A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth for my trip – all 1400 pages of it! – but have yet to break 500 pages. I know many of you out there have read this beast before – would you say the latter half of the book moves more swiftly than the first half? I enjoy the parts that deal with the interpersonal relationships between the characters, specifically the bollywood-style scandals and romantic intrigues, but I must confess I’m totally bored when I wind up in sections dealing with civil uprisings, shoemaking, and Hindu/Muslim conflicts. I generally don’t tackle books that are so long, so my interest is beginning to wane; is it worth sticking with this one?
Hi All. This month, Claire and I are hosting a read-along of Roberto Bolaño’s post-humous masterpiece, 2666. In order to make this a feasible read-along, we decided the best course of action would be for us to aim to read the first book this month, “The Part About The Critics”, which amounts to about 160 pages (if you’re reading the hardcover edition). Now, we know that many of you will not need a whole month to read 160 pages (some of you maybe will read this in a day!), but we had our reasons for planning it this way. Namely, Bolaño’s wish was for 2666 to be published in separate volumes, one per year ( I believe). His publishers decided against this, but many readers have indicated that their enjoyment of the novel was heightened by spacing out the reading of each of the individual installments, while readers who read the whole thing in one go tended to enjoy the book less. By giving everyone a month to read each section, we hope that we’ll also be giving you (and ourselves) the chance to read other books in between, to approximate the vibe Bolaño was going for, and to hopefully increase our enjoyment as well.
If you’re interested in participating, leave a comment below. We’re still ironing out how to do the wrap-up at the end of the month. In part, I think it iwll depend on how many people are participating. Feel free to start the book anytime during the month of May. This is really a ” do as you please” read-along!