To nobody’s surprise, The Stranger’s Child stayed good until the very end. It also had some cards up its sleeve until that point as well, which isn’t necessarily a thing that I go for (I’m not reading Encyclopedia Brown, am I) but in this case it underscores something important about the book, and (in my experience) about Hollinghurst.
Unlike The Stranger’s Child, I’ll just come right out and tell you what I’m on about: the book is all about absences. Not content to have gaps in the narrative which inquisitive characters fill in during subsequent pages, the missing elements are promoted to full-blown lacunae, about which the characters struggle between themselves. Because this is the substance rather than a parlor trick, it’s actually deeply satisfying.
Because if its subject (hidden artifacts leading to a revised literary biography for a fake poet), I couldn’t help but be reminded of Possession. This is sort of amusing to me, as I first read Possession for the class in which I also read The Swimming Pool Library.
Here’s Yoshi helping my pack up after a day at Temboo.
Here is an innocuous household object rendered creepy by the magic of Instagram.
So my forearms are a train wreck, but I’m now a blue belt. I guess I’m provisionally excited about that. For a while now I’ve been going to either sparring or curriculum classes, but not both. I think I’m going to be assiduous about covering more bases in the immediate future. It’s certainly less expensive than going out instead.
I’m about halfway through The Stranger’s Child and it’s as good as I expected. It also throws into stark relief the element missing from all of those Austen and co. novels about people sitting around in fancy houses doing nothing: booze! Maybe instead of gimmicky bullshit like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and its ilk, someone should intercut those old books with scenes of people getting drunk and making it. In the final analysis, I’d probably still find them incredibly boring, but you can’t really get much worse than the source material.
So I finished Wuthering Heights today, and the last quarter of that book is a total dog. I will note that by that time there were few enough pages that the whole thing didn’t just collapse under its own weight, so it’s still better than Great Expectations, and you should just ignore my mother.
I think I’m finally off this stupid old-book kick. I don’t know what I was thinking letting it go on that long. Moby Dick is awesome, but it isn’t awesome enough to justify reading 2/3 of Great Expectations. I’m all set for the new Hollinghurst novel, The Stranger’s Child.
It’s actually quite strange to me that it has taken so long for me to get around to reading another Hollinghurst novel, because I adored The Swimming Pool Library back at Hampshire. I think that the problem may have been that I studied it very closely for a paper (reading it maybe 4 times through in a month, and certain sections more than that) and I burnt out for a while. I was reminded of him by a couple of press stories recently, and I’m actually looking forward to working back through the rest of his oeuvre.
Here is a great. . . whatever it is that we call Tumblr accounts that do stuff like this. I guess “blog” fits. Whatever.
Here is an awesome video that I found via the aforementioned blog:
I gave up on reading Great Expectations. The sanctimony overcame the quirky humor, and I couldn’t be bothered to keep track of what was going on any more. Now I’m reading Wuthering Heights, mostly because of Hark, a Vagrant. It’s way better, although every single character is totally fucking loathsome. Almost as bad as Austen, in that regard.
Speaking of loathsome, the previously observed race to the bottom of the Facebook-UI-emulation barrel continues apace with Gmail and WordPress’ control panel being the latest things that I use to become completely fucking horrible. It’s enough to make me hope that rich fucks do in the global economy completely so I’ll be too poor to see it get any worse.