The OF Blog: Books that I have yet to review that perhaps I should

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Books that I have yet to review that perhaps I should

Ever found yourself reading a book or, even better, thinking about it some time later and wishing you had tried to capture in words just what that story meant to you?  There are several books that I have yet to review (I would list Roberto Bolaño's 2666 here, but I'm going to have that review up before the week is over, if not by tomorrow night) that I feel I should essay to do so.  Here's a partial list of the books that come to mind, in no particular order:

Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again.  Much as I love his novels, his last, posthumous release continues to dwell in my thoughts more than a decade after I first read it.  Perhaps one day soon I'll manage to write coherently about what this book means to me.

Norman Mailer, The Executioner's Song.  This "non-fiction novel" won the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for its account of murderer Gary Gilmore's final moments.  His portrayal at Mailer's hands is so chilling that over a decade later, it still continues to haunt my thoughts.

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being.  When I first read this a few years ago, I was touched in ways that I found then indescribable.  Maybe I'll find the words the next time I read it.

Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory.  It moved me three years ago when I first read it and I hope one day to describe in words just how so.

John Crowley, Ægypt Cycle.  There is a reason why Harold Bloom includes Crowley in his Western Canon.  I just wish I could write succinctly about my reactions to reading this four-volume series.

Flannery O'Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find.  I love her stories and the elements with which she infuses them with a looming menace.  Maybe I'll find more words whenever I re-read this first collection or its succeeding volumes.

William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury.  One of my favorite Faulkner novels.  Much to be said, once the words are found.

William Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage.  A favorite from my early 20s.  I wonder what it'd say to me now and if I could express that in written words.

Stepan Chapman, The Troika.  Weirdness on a scale that's challenging to describe.  Soon, maybe, soon.

Albert Camus, The Stranger.  Surprising that I haven't attempted this yet.  Maybe when I re-read it in English and French.

There's 10 for your consideration and perhaps future review.  Which books, if any, would you consider to hold a similar place in your affections but which you find it difficult, if not impossible, to relate to others?


Matthew Cheney said...

I find it very hard to write about stuff that I have a deep personal response to, and so when I look over some of what I've published about books over the years, in many ways it doesn't really represent my greatest loves as a reader, because there's something in that relationship to particular books or authors that lies beyond explanation. For me, it's folks like Faulkner, Chekhov, Beckett, Woolf, Kafka, certain things by Paul Bowles. Part of it is just humility, too -- those works seem to me the height of what literature can accomplish, and so creating inferior writing about them just feels ... sacrilegious.

Larry said...


I think you hit the nail on the head here. That is almost exactly the sort of feeling that I have with the authors I mentioned, except I do wonder that if I attempt and fail at capturing that sense of amazement, would it improve me in the very act of attempting? I think it was Beckett who said "Try again, fail again, fail better," and that quote has stuck in my head for quite some time now whenever I feel daunted.

Now to see how well I can fail at writing a relatively short commentary on Bolaño's 2666.

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