Saturday, 2 February 2013

Reading Clinic

Happy Birthday, James Joyce b. Feb 2 1882
A reader has consulted Moffat Book Events about what to read after finishing James Joyce's Ulysses. A change of pace and mood is clearly indicated after such a marathon. Ulysses is also, the reader reports 'incredibly filthy'. So: something lighter in every sense might bridge the gap. Authors such as Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh wrote short, witty books in classic, clear English. George Orwell  also scores highly on purity of English, and length ie did not go in for blockbusters. I suggest diaries from Roger Lewis's Seasonal Suicide Notes to James Lees Milne's epic series, or letters such as the Lyttleton-Hart Davies series between a retired school master and a publisher, for literary gossip, opinions and fun.  The inquirer is a fan of American crime fiction, a genre I usually enjoy in TV versions (Columbo; Murder, She Wrote). The reader might try the shocking The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester? A short book (the reader's arms must need a rest from lugging Ulysses around) I can  recommend, which explores another sort of night town is the memoir of her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe: Just Kids by poet, artist and rock star Patti Smith. With reading, one thing often leads to another. The author of Ulysses was wont to invite the waiter to join him at his table. Why not explore the theme of hospitality via a range of reading matter: the memoirs of great hostesses of the past; Jacques Derrida's exploration of the stranger in Of Hospitality; pilgrimage might lead to William Dalrymple's From the Holy Mountain and so on. Moffat sometimes laments that it is 'only' a place that people pass through on their way somewhere else. But what better characterises the human condition?

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