The OF Blog: So I take a break from reading 2666...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

So I take a break from reading 2666...

And I do a search for something related to it and I see this:

This is what happens when someone reads a galley (a.k.a. ARC, or advance reading copy) in public: publishing people take notice and begin to wonder about certain things. There’s the galley’s provenance, of course. But what about its owner? Where does he work? Does she like the same things I do? Is he single? It’s almost like a secret society, a world of readers set apart from the majority, bonded together by their ability to spot a galley in the first place, and to know what possessing such an object means. These people can find each other in parks, coffee shops and, perhaps most often, subway cars.

“Books are pretty much the only thing I might conceivably be interested in having a conversation with a stranger about. I feel like at least once a week I see someone reading a book that I know is not out yet,” said Nick Antosca, a 25-year-old novelist who used to review books for The New York Sun. “I saw someone reading the new Chuck Palahniuk book before it came out and I was like, ‘Oh, shit, I want to get that!’ I wondered whether she was a reviewer or if she worked at the publishing house.”

She could have been an agent, too—or a journalist, or a friend of the author. All of these, Mr. Antosca said, are “kind of interesting.”

Interesting because if you see someone clutching an early copy of Roberto Bolano’s 2666, coming this fall from FSG, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll have a lot to talk about if you find a way to transmit your appreciation for their treasure across the L train.

“If you’re reading a galley on the subway, and someone comes to talk to you, you’re going to share a lot of things in common with them,” said Tom Meaney, the former literary editor of The New York Sun, who is currently a graduate student of modern European history at Columbia. “You can have the right jeans or the right purse or whatever … but if you’re reading How Fiction Works in March, you know, three months before the book comes out, and you get the one girl who is interested in [New Yorker literary critic] James Wood, well …” Our imagination is going wild! “It’s just an incredibly selective object.”

Of course, it may be that I live in a western suburb of Nashville, TN and not in NYC, but I just haven't had much in the way of those experiences. While I've had a few at work ask me about whatever book I had at the time, sadly, no young ladies wanted to go out for coffee (even if I don't drink it) because I had the latest Gene Wolfe or John Scalzi. If only...*sigh*

But I can say, 650 pages in, that 2666 might be worth some of the "buzz" that some outside of certain SF/F circles might be hearing now. So far, it's akin to The Savage Detectives, but more sprawling, with a middle section that is very violent and personal to read. I expect Bolaño will receive quite a bit of attention from the awards people after its November English translation release.


Mihai A. said...

Maybe you should use some feminist books, but as I've seen in a previous post you're kind of "sexist" :)
Seriously, it is like in that episode from "Friends" when Joey and Chandler caught on the TV a porn channel and they didn't turn it off because they were afraid they'll loose it. After a while they went outside the house and they were very amazed because the women met in their business didn't jump on them right away.
Now I met my wife sometime ago, but it was a time when I really hope to meet some women through books, but at college not even a single one asked me about the book I read in the metro, the park or any other place. It was one time in a library, but she was taken, damn... :)

Elena said...

I am going to make you so jealous, then, dark wolf. Because I am with my other half today (6 years later) because of a book. It wasn't how we met, it was just what made him decide to take a chance on asking out the girl who flirted with him on the bus on the way to a T/Th 8 a.m. lecture on dinosaur bones. Cosmic Banditos by AC Weisbecker. I sat there trying to finish it before we got to class, cracking up every 3 paragraphs, and he was finally like "can I read that when you're done? because any book that makes someone laugh like that has to be interesting." And by extension I had to be more interesting than the average co-ed. So I lent it to him, he read it and thought yep she's a weirdo and asked me out the next day.

So this is off the subject (though on the subject of college, I guess), but Larry--when you were looking at schools/programs, did Plan II at UT(exas) ever cross your radar? Because you remind me a lot of my classmates in that program, in the things you seem interested in and the direction you've taken your life (from what little we can glean of your professional life from posts here, that is). So I was just curious. :)

Anonymous said...

I keep imagining that I'm going to see someone reading a Zelazny book, get chatting and then, 10 years later, tell the story to our kids.

So Elena's story, basically.

Liviu said...

I almost finished The Savage Detectives and while the middle part with the collage of voices was weird and needs a rereading to fully appreciate it, the first and last part are excellent - very energetic writing that pulls you with it.

I am looking forward to 2666 which I should get in a week or so - after your post on it and my reading and enjoying Amulet so much that Bolano became another author to read everything in time, I just did a check in the usual places and could not believe when I saw that 21$ total 2666 arc on Abe....

Regarding commuting, I've done about 7 years on the Westchester to NYC lines - 1999/2005 - on all 3 as it happens, and I always kept an eye on what people were reading - have to say that Nora Roberts was #1 in fiction, with Danielle Steel #2 and then some thrillers in terms of people/frequency. Though WSJ by far and NYT a distant second were the most popular choices overall.

I almost never saw anyone except me reading sf, but considering the composition of the crowd - there were days I was almost the only one not dressed in a suit or other formal wear - it was not a surprise.

Lsrry said...

Ha! :P I'm not much of a porn watcher, Mihai, so I don't quite expect Letters from Penthouse-type scenarios to unfold around me ;)


At the time I was doing my undergrad at the University of Tennessee, I didn't have the money to consider anything out-of-state (despite having excellent scores, my parents put the kibosh to thoughts of paying out-of-state anything, scholarships or not). I know of Texas's reputation, however, and if I had that opportunity 12 years ago, I would have jumped at it.

But speaking of meeting people via books, I have a hard-to-describe long-distance relationship (not bf/gf, but more than just friends, it seems at times) with a young lady that began with online discussions of books. Quite strange, but still cool to have.


Yeah, that part was strange, but on a re-read, it becomes much clearer why Bolaño did it (traveling and conversing and having the plot - such as it is - unfold via passing conversations seems to be a preferred method of his). And your commute is quite different from mine - I just drive in a car and pray that the idiots in front of me aren't on John Deere! :P

Anonymous said...

Waiting patiently for 2666. In English -- my Spanish mostly consists of nursing assessment phrases. I would, however, like to improve my vocabulary. It occurred to me that you might be able to recommend either a bilingual book or a fairly easy, yet interesting, Spanish language novel. Our tastes seem to be similar.

I'm rather shy, but if I see a stranger reading an interesting book, I can't help but comment on it. This has led to a few interesting conversations.

Mary C

Liviu said...

I finished rereading The Savage Detectives and that is a book I will be rereading several times more for sure. The first time after the one narrator/linear time, first part, the multiple narrators/looped time middle is like a rush, you go through it, get some, miss some, but you cannot stop to assess. But then on the reread a lot more becomes clearer, and I think on the next reread I will get even more.

Amulet is the expansion of the Auxilio Lacoutoure story from Savage Detectives - page 173-182 - and is a short novel that hooked me on Bolano, so for newcomers it may be a good idea to check that first.

Lsrry said...

Well Mary C., one of the "easier" Spanish-language novels that I read was actually Jorge Luis Borges' works. The sentence constructions are fairly simple, even if the ideas are quite complex. Isabel Allende is pretty clear in her writing and with virtually all of her stories translated into English, those translations can be used as parallel texts to help with the language acquisition.


Amuleto is certainly a book that'll be added to my shopping cart in the coming weeks!

marbelcal said...

Thanks Larry, I was actually thinking of Borges because I have a few of his works to use as references.

Mary C

Lsrry said...

You're welcome! :D

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