Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Currently Reading - September 29, 2009

The Flower of Chivalry; Bertrand du Guesclin and the Hundred Years War by Richard Vernier. History. A biography of one of the most influential French leaders of the hundred years war period. Joan of Arc gets more press, du Guesclin had more impact. He's a major reason that the national language of France isn't English.

The Anthologist (Fiction, 2009) by Nicholson Baker. Baker attended my alma mater, Haverford College. [Haverford's cheer at sporting events: "That's all right, that's ok, you'll all work for us some day", typically as we were losing...badly]. Baker is a bit of an acquired taste, but is a marvelous writer. His books tend to be unusual. One novel takes place in a father's mind while his baby takes a nap. Another takes place over the course of one phone call. Yet another takes place as a man rides an escalator.

From The Anthologist (page 50), on the art of writing - "...you can choose to tell the truth or not to. And the difficulty is that sometimes it's hard to tell the truth because you think the truth is too personal, or too boring, to tell. Or both. And sometimes it's hard to tell the truth because the truth is hard to see, because it exists in a misty, gray non-space between two strongly charged falsehoods that sound true but aren't."

UPDATE 10/1/09 - Finished The Anthologist last night, and I would describe it as what I would consider to be fairly typical of Baker's work. I don't read Baker for plot or characters for the most part. What I do read him for is those keen observations, the nuggets, that are peppered throughout. As it turns out, the quote I included above in the original post is a good example of what I mean. Again, not for everybody, but I like him.

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