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?

Posted by at 07:42 AM in Books and Language | Link |
  1. Is this the service where you get the book already loaded on a little player, like an iPod and you check out the entire gizmo? All you have to do is either replace the batteries or recharge it before you return it.

    Susan    10. January 2010, 10:42    Link
  2. I really enjoyed listening to Diane Ackerman’s The Zookeeper’s Wife. The story itself—about the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo and how they hid Jews on the grounds during the Nazi occupation—is mesmerizing, so it’s easy to get pulled into the narrative. It’s also a well-read audiobook, so Ackerman’s vivid descriptions and dramatic narrative style literally come to life as you’re listening.

    Lorianne    10. January 2010, 14:53    Link
  3. I did so much more “reading” when I commuted to work. It seems as if I should put an asterisk by any book I claimed to have read by having it read to me, but of course that’s a prejudice.

    I need a few more years to go by before my third read of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series, twenty volumes of fiction set during the Napoleonic Wars, all read by Patrick Tull. There are two other readers out there, but only Tull will do!

    Peter    10. January 2010, 20:54    Link

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