Hey, I’m feeling a little better – not well enough to mix it up, but at least I’m capable of staring blearily at the computer screen while dabbing at my leaking left eye, and this is progress!
But while I am thinking of it, I’m curious – I seem to get an email from almost everyone who buys Rumer Godden’s In This House of Brede (and they are always gushing and positive for that remarkable book), even though most of the recent buyers seem to be non-Catholics. That’s pretty interesting. Lately, I’ve had positive emails on James Martin’s My Life With the Saints, Theodore Dalrymple’s Our Culture, What’s Left of It and Nancy Klein Maguire’s An Infinity of Little Hours. And that is how it should be, because they’re all tremendously good books. I also get almost weekly emails from people thanking me for directing them toward the clear-as-a-bell soprano Sumi Jo, or toward my dear basso profundo, Bryn Terfel – and more than a few folks have written in asking me to tell Buster that they’ve enjoyed discovering Gerald Albright’s sax, Yoko Kanno’s whip-smart scores for Cowboy Bebop and, umm…The Zombie Survival Guide.
But I know that lots of you folks are buying lots of books and music that I’ve never heard of (I can see it in the report, and I thank you (as does the splendid hospice at Calvary Hospital, which gets a percentage of all the Amazon sales proceeds). I am wondering what you think about what you’ve purchased. What books, CD’s and DVD’s have you especially liked – whether I recommended them or not – and what have you found disappointing? I’d hate to think I was recommending stuff to folks that they ended up hating.
I’m in the mood to talk books, movies and music, and I want to hear what you folks are liking and hating.
Meanwhile, before I edit The Bookshelf, I may do something completely out-of-character and review for you a stack of trashy romance novels.
While I’ve been sick, I’ve found it hard to read anything halfway challenging. The Elder Brother recently read Mark Z. Danielewski’s creative and bizarre House of Leaves and loved it so much he begged me to read it. I got through the first 21 pages and agreed that the book is remarkable – truly riveting and intriguing – but one has no head for something that smart and learned when one is spiking fevers and running pinkeye, so I have been reaching into the grocery-bag full of “romance” paperbacks one of my neighbors dragged over to keep me amused while I’ve been sluggish, stupid and laid up. I’ve been plowing through them, one after another, (after a while they all seem to run together into some sort of Regency nightmare – I fall asleep and dream I’m not allowed to waltz at Almack’s because I’m too short and my breasts are not perky enough to heave, or something, and because my dress is always stained with whatever I’ve been eating…rather like real life, actually).
Some of them are just dreck – I can’t think how the writer’s have managed to find agents and publishers – and some of them are actually pretty clever, and some of them…welllll…some of them are just embarrassing and I am appalled at the cover art (is it the same pectorally-enhanced houseboy posing for all of these covers?)
Last night I tried to read one that was just so rotten (the adjective-happy author kept describing the hero’s “enamelled teeth” on the heroine’s silky skin…either she’s got a sexy dentist she’s dreaming about, or she thinks “enamelled” perhaps means something else.)
So if you’re in the mood, leave a comment or drop a line about what you’re reading/watching/hearing – that might be a fun thread – and in the meantime, I’ll try to figure out what exactly I think about these floridly-illustrated mass-marketed paperbacks which my neighbor says she “doesn’t want back” because they’re bad for her.
I’ll tell you how they’ve been affecting me – I went to the stupid doc’s the other day and he said, “you’ve got a bacterial infection, but you’re run down and you’ve got something viral going on as well, and that virus is having its way with you,” and I said, “it’s having it’s way with me? That sounds so much sexier than it feels!”
I never would have said such a thing had I not been reading the one about the dumb-but-reckless Lord helping the brilliant Egyptologist escape the bad guys and rescue her only-somewhat-smart brother…or was that the one about the beautiful but irresponsible Viscount helping the brilliant Armenian warrior-princess?
My neighbor is quite right – these books are bad for one, in the way a dazzling six-foot, three-inch, massively proportioned ne’er-do-well virus cannot be good for body or soul. I’ll tell you all about it, to warn you away from them. I’ll sacrifice myself and read them and review them…so you don’t have to!
UPDATE: You folks are cracking me up, and also giving me lots of good book suggestions (and not just for trash, neither). I see I’ll have to put Outlander in the Bookshelf. Co-incidentally, I had listed it among my planned summer reading in this NRO Symposium:
If there is any time left, I am going to re-read Diana Gabaldon’s wild time-travel romance, Outlander, because it has everything — history, herbal remedies, scourgings, torture, witchcraft, Eucharistic Adoration, two husbands and torrid (but married) romance. Summer reading to gasp by.