On Jan. 9th, DCO’sfan put out a request for reading suggestions. It was the dull part of the off-season, after the winter meetings and before Dan Duquette signed Wilson Betemit and trade Jeremy Guthrie, and we needed things to talk about. The discussion that followed was both a nice way to pass the time and a wonderful opportunity to update my reading list. Afterwards I thought, we should do regular reading list updates. I fully expected come June that the O’s would be in last place and some of us might be reaching for things about which to talk.
If you had told me six months ago that the O’s would be 32-25 and tied for first in the AL East today, I would have been thrilled. Hopefully there’s still interest in talking about books, though! What I’d like to know is, did you pick up any of the books recommended by other Chatters? What did you think of them? Have you read anything else in the last six months that you thought was really good? I’ll go first…
Books I pulled off that most illustrious reading list include All the Pretty Horses (Cormac McCarthy), The Power and the Glory (Graham Greene), Watership Down (Richard Adams), and Endurance (Alfred Lansing). Of these four, the only one I’ve read is All the Pretty Horses.
It took me two months to read, mostly because I just couldn’t connect with the characters. Initially I was sympathetic towards John Grady, but McCarthy’s style never really got me invested in what would happen to him. It seemed like it took forever for him and Lacey to ride down to the ranch in Mexico, where I guess I was expecting the real action of the story to happen. In retrospect, the journey was the action, the conflict, and the resolution. Can someone more literary than me say whether there is any body of criticism of McCarthy’s work? Because the more John Grady and Lacey interacted with Jimmy Blevins, the more I came to feel that Blevins’s behavior was so contrived that he might not be a real person. Sort of like an alter ego, or (let me say it), an allegory of John Grady’s feelings and choices. By far the most exciting part of the book was toward the end when John Grady stole his horses back and rode outlaw across the desert, capitan in tow.
I can see why people like All the Pretty Horses, but I think I expected it to be something it wasn’t, closer to what Lonesome Dove was. I’m debating whether to read the rest of the Border Trilogy, knowing what I know now.
Other highlights from my six month reading list include The Magician King, Lev Grossman’s sequel to The Magicians. I thought the plot to King was more absurd than the first book, but Grossman did a good job of developing characters. I thought Julia’s backstory on how she got into magic was particularly engrossing. As for the absurdity, sometimes you just have to roll your eyes and go on with it. I also really liked Thomas Middleton’s A Mad World, My Masters, a Jacobean-era city comedy in which a young trickster plots to get his inheritance out of his grandfather early, only to end up marrying his grandfather’s mistress at the end. Okay, it’s much better on stage, but still a funny read.
So, what about everyone else?