Now that snow shoveling season has returned, my guilt at staying indoors and reading has diminished considerably. In order to further justify my indolence, I've joined this "5 things" meme:
1. The book I’m currently reading:
Dylan's Vision of Sin by Christopher Ricks.
Yes, The Oxford Book of English Verse, Christopher Ricks. If you've ever had a yen to see if Bob Dylan's lyrics hold up to a close reading under the "classical" microscope, this is the book for you. Although he may not cover your favorite Dylan song, those which Ricks does analyze are covered in depth: in their construction, in their relationship to other poetry, and in their meaning. At over 500 extremely verbose pages this is neither a quick nor easy read. It is, however, refreshingly free of the usual Dylan biographical sidetracks as Ricks takes each song as a stand-alone creation and doesn't dwell on what Dylan ate for supper the day he wrote it.
2. The last book I finished:
Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata. One of my Nobel Laureate "series", is a small gem of a novel concerning a sad affair between a middle-aged Japanese man (Shimamura) and a young woman (Komako, a geisha) who try to create a meaningful relationship in a mountain ski resort and spa. As it develops it shows various nuances of the very Japanese situation. It was hard for me to warm up to the characters in the book, Shimamura is aware of imbalance in their relationship but can do little or nothing to change it, his passivity lacks empathy. Komako, who seems to be somewhat different than other geisha girls, remains trapped in her role as well.
3. The next book I want to read:
Laterna Magica by William Heinesen. I found this book when I was in Seattle, one of several Faroese connections I made that weekend.
I had recently read Heinesen's The Lost Musicians, along with several pieces in Faroese Short Stories. This book contains more short fiction- it is his final book- and was published in Seattle by Tiina Nunnally for the Fjord Press in 1987 (Tiina translated Peter Høeg's immensely successful Smilla's Sense of Snow).
I've peeked at it; I'm sure I'll devour it once I'm through with the Dylan book.
4. The last book I bought:
The Greenhouse by Audur Ava Olafsdottir, translated by Brian FitzGibbon. This is a leap of faith, I've seen numerous favorable reviews, it is still a risky bet though. I've been burned before by on-line recommendations but have been pleasantly "warmed" by others. Outside of crime fiction writers, I am woefully ignorant of modern Icelandic fiction.
It's in my Amazon queue, I'll put off actually ordering it until after I make the rounds of the Minneapolis booksellers.
5. The last book I was given:
Icelandic Essays, explorations in the anthropology of modern life by E. Paul Durrenberger, Rudi Press, 1995.
This gifted book was a complete surprise from my blog-pal "Rose". It contains a series of anecdotal essays tying modern life in Iceland to its history and culture. Written just before the crazy economic expansion in the 2000's, its greatest value may line in its "time capsule" description of that time of transistion. While this book would have limited appeal for the general reader, Rose knows exactly what appeals to my fancy.
This meme is from Simon, via Niranjana...