I’m making a radical shift in my reading, but I’m announcing it because I have my doubts that I can sustain the shift. I may need some help. You may need to sit down. This is big.
Readers of the Jesus Creed blog know by now that I’m horrible at reading novels. I try to read two a year — during the summer, E. Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, and in December, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I try to read both; sometimes I even do.
Two years back I decided it was time to read some Kafka, and if my memory serves me right I hadn’t read Kafka since high school German class when we read the altogether weird, weird, Das Metamorphose. The fella turned into a beetle. So over a Spring Break two years back I read Kafka’s altogether weird The Trial. What a journey into the twisted mind of humans, or at least Kafka. Over Christmas 2011 I wanted to read another novel, but I needed to prepare for a paper at the BioLogos event so I didn’t get one read. (At least I don’t remember reading one then.)
So I’m trying to read more novels, including a recent one:
During our trip to Iceland and Denmark I read Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man, a book that explores the “options” in life for an African American man in the middle of the 20th Century. It was a brilliant story; I was over and over disestablished by not knowing the experience of the black man; I was routinely shocked and embarrassed by the narrative’s options and openings; and I watched a man — he gets no name, which points out that the African American is just not seen — but seen through by the establishment — grow and get betrayed and sort out options, including a major focus on entering into and then rejecting Communism/socialism (The Brotherhood).
What’s next? I’m a few pages into Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, a book that looks at American culture through the lens of violence. A good time to ponder violence.
My plan is to have a novel always near at hand to read. We’ll see.