10 January 10
Not Reading for the Plot
I’ve discovered the e-audiobook service at the Sacramento Public Library, and now I’m knitting away while someone reads me a book. It’s wonderful. I’m gobbling up big books I’ve read before and bigger ones I haven’t.
I’ve always managed to miss Edith Wharton. I saw the film version of the Age of Innocence when it first came out but it seemed a Merchant Ivory period piece, pretty and insubstantial. What I’m astonished by in the book is how perfectly she nails American (specifically, New York postbellum but easily transposable to a Boston I knew when I lived there in the 1990s) snobbery. This might get dull after a few hundred pages but it unfolds in such perfumed, stifling, dark-panelled and rose-bedecked prose that I find myself pulling at my neckline, trying to get more air.
I will never again say that irony is not one of the weapons in the American writing arsenal. Wharton deploys it like a stiletto, inlaid with mother-of-pearl and bearing at its tip an orchid poison. I’m following along in horrid fascination.
For anyone still reading this blog, any recommendations for other books, given how much I’m enjoying this?