January 6, 2009 | 3:40 pm
Posted by Tom Teicholz
When last I blogged, I was sitting in my office the week before Christmas, and I just ran out of steam. I had originally planned to work through the holiday and then I just said, why?
So I took the time off. I stayed at home. I read books for pleasure:
NETHERLAND by Joseph O’Neill — which I liked but, frankly it was not the novel I thought or hoped it would be. Netherland is a post 9-11 novel about a Dutch born English raised man who working at a financial company in New York and whose family returns to England post 9-11 and his time in New York and his friendship with a Trinidadian who he meets through playing cricket. The novel has been comapred to The Great Gatsby and I see the shadow of that classic on this work, but this is a far more interior work. It is well written, and took all kinds of side trips into areas of arcane knowledge such as cricket history, but in then end was more slight a book, more interior, and left me feeling unsatisfied.
The English Professor by Jim Harrison, which I enjoyed, perhaps more than I should have. It’s a kind of demented book, a rambling work of a demented unreliable narrator — a 60 year ex-teacher turned farmer whose wife dumps him and he sets off on a road trip — along the way he reunites with a former student — there is plenty of drink and sex and food and plenty of nature writing — and for reasons that are hard to explain as compared to Netherword which had an air of self importance this was slight in all the right ways.
I’m also halfway into “The Widows of Eastwick,” which I both enjoy and somewhat dread. Updike has really written about the vicissitudes of age, and what older Americans do, which is travel and reunite for brief moments with their past in ways that are often disappointing. My dread comes from the feeling that nothing good can come from these characters and an expectation that on any page something bad is about to happen — which is a testmaent to Updike’s continued powers as a writer and a story teller, but still, it doesn’t make me race to pick up and finish the book, so I am proceeding at a leisurely pace with caution.
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