Sunday, December 11, 2005

Reading Into the Past: Week of 12/11

This week, the dice show 9, so we head back to the fabled year 1996 (and that means I have to dig out the old reading notebook)...
  • Anthony Trollope, The Eustace Diamonds (12/4)
  • Evelyn Waugh, Work Suspended and Other Stories (12/5)
  • Melanie Rawn, The Mageborn Traitor (12/7)
  • Charles Sheffield, Convergence (12/8)
  • Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (12/9)
  • Tony Kornheiser, Pumping Irony (12/10)
  • E. Nesbit, Five Children and It (12/11)
And that was the beginning of a book-a-day streak that ran through 2/8/97 -- I really did read a lot more in those days. (Though there were 26 comics collections and art books in that streak, so it's not as impressive as it may look.)

I apparently had been reading The Eustace Diamonds since about November 22, but I don't really remember which Trollope novel it was, now. (Though I do think I need to find time to read another one soon; probably He Knew He Was Right.) I was on a two or three Trollope-a-year clip then, but kids and having Internet access at home have put the kibosh on that, as they have on so many other pieces of my reading life.

I remember things about Work Suspended, but not the story itself; that was the book Waugh started writing soon after the war, and had a breakdown soon afterward (as fictionalized in The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold). It's minor Waugh, but that was near the end of my Waugh kick, so it was what was left. There are some other stories in the book, but damned if I know now what they were. (I replaced this with a spiffy new The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh a couple of years ago, but haven't managed to crack the latter yet.)

The Mageborn Traitor was the second book on Rawn's famously still-unfinished trilogy, which I enjoyed well-enough at the time. (Though the social set-up of the first book had a little too much simple gender-role-inversion for my taste; it felt like she hadn't thought things through completely.)

Convergence has disappeared entirely; I think it involved a trip to another arm of the galaxy, and I'm sure it was the fourth book in a series I hadn't previously read, but that's about all left in that cubbyhole of my head.

That was the first time I read Three Men in a Boat; I think I've poked through it several times since, and read it all the way through at least once more. (Everybody should.)

I think that Pumping Irony was some sort of Iron John parody, or response, or something like that. It otherwise rings no bells.

And Five Children and It was the one and only Nesbit book I ever read; it didn't impress me. Maybe it was because I was already 27 when I read it, but it struck me as stodgy, dull, plodding and terminally didactic.

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