I was hoping to write a post about Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist, but it’s 9:00 on a Friday evening, and I’d like to get some reading in before I go to bed, so the Baker post will have to wait. You probably know how that goes (well, maybe all of you are out partying on a Friday night; I shouldn’t assume anybody else stays in). I will say, though, that once again today I found myself trying to talk a friend into reading Baker. That happens a lot with me. I mean, what is everybody waiting for?
Instead of writing about Baker, I’ll tell you how things went this week. First of all, I got some more Christmas presents — all in the form of books. People tend to apologize about giving gifts late, but I like it when they come late, because it spreads the fun out a bit more. First of all, I got a copy of Kelly Link’s book Magic for Beginners, which will work perfectly for Kate’s Short Story challenge. And then I got a copy of Frances Wilson’s biography The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth. I’m acquiring a fairly decent collection of biographies of the romantics, which is fun. Eric Newby’s A Traveler’s Life also arrived, and the title is pretty self-explanatory. It sounds exciting.
Also, two books arrived from Book Mooch: Sybille Bedford’s A Favorite of the Gods and Valerie Trueblood’s Seven Loves. Both of these authors come highly recommended from fellow bloggers.
But I’m not just collecting books; I’m working my way through a few, including Miklos Vamos’s The Book of Fathers. I’m about 3/4 of the way through. The book has been intense and full of characters, events, and history. I’ve been enjoying it. I’m also reading the Best American Essays 2008 collection; I almost always enjoy reading books in that series, and this particular volume is not failing me. Adam Gopnik was the editor that year, and he wrote a great introduction to the essay form. How’s this for an opening line:
The essayist, like his friend the hangman, is expected to apologize for his profession even as he practices it.
An excellent beginning to a so-far excellent book. The first essay was wonderful in a gut-wrenching, shocking kind of way, as were the two after it, now that I think about it, and I’m looking forward to reading further.
But there is cycling news too. Because of the snow and freezing temperatures, Hobgoblin and I have turned to our mountain bikes for exercise. For the most part, we are mountain biking on pavement and not on mountains, but when the roads have ice and slush on them, knobby tires work much better than skinny ones, and many days this week, it’s been the mountain bikes that have allowed us to get out at all. I hadn’t ridden on my mountain bike for several years, so when Hobgoblin pulled mine out, I was initially skeptical and uncertain, but I’ve become so grateful he did because without it I would despair at my ability to train for the races that are only eight weeks away. Now, instead of worrying about snow in the forecast, I just look forward to using my other bike. I’ve ridden six days in a row now, four days on the mountain bike, and it’s been so much fun. Today we did some riding on dirt roads and carriage roads in a local park and it was fun in a terrifying, wheels-sliding-all-over-the-place kind of way.
And tomorrow, Hobgoblin and I have a super-exciting literary excursion to look forward to. I’ll be back soon with a full report.
5 responses to “Happy weekend!”
Collecting new books whilst reading books sounds to me an example of perfect balance in life! And I must go and look up that Nicholson Baker book. Here, we may have a slightly strange impression of him as the only book Mister Litlove and I have read was The Fermata. I’m sure it is not the only kind of writing he does!!
Are you off to that JA exhibit?? If so, have fun and take notes. And if it’s something else I still look forward to hearing about it. This week I’ve seen two people riding bikes which amazes me with all the snow we have. A lot of roads and parking lots are still packed with snow–I worry about falling while walking, so I can’t imagine being on two wheels! I’m curious about the Vamos book as I have it to read, too. And I really do need to read Baker this year–I’m going to look through my piles–I’m sure I have something by him. And I have that same book of essays so I look forward to hearing about it, too. I like Adam Gopnik a lot so I bet the collection he edited is good. Enjoy the rest of your weekend (and I don’t party either…I usually fall asleep watching movies on Friday nights!).
I am looking forward to both reading The Anthologist this month and your comments on it.
Book of Fathers and The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth are both on my shelves as well. To tell you the truth, I have been putting off the Vamos for the very reasons you seem to be enjoying it. It seems very dense and calls out for more time than I currently have to give it. Sigh.
Hope your weekend excursion was fantastic!
Litlove — I haven’t read The Fermata, and I’m a little uncertain about doing so, although I’m such a Baker fan, I’m sure I will at some point! But yes, I think his other books are quite different (well, then there’s Vox 🙂 )
Danielle — it was indeed the Austen exhibit, and it was really great! (the new post up is about it) Riding around on a mountain bike is much steadier than being on the skinny tires, and it generally doesn’t take too long before the snow is cleared around here so the roads are dry. But yes, cyclists do sometimes get quite obsessive! If you have Baker’s The Mezzanine on hand, that’s where I would recommend starting with him; it’s the best one of his I’ve read so far.
Frances — the Vamos book does take time, and if time is short these days, I’d recommend waiting on it. I’m about 70 pages from the end and hope to finish it tonight or tomorrow. And yes, the weekend excursion WAS fantastic!
Fun new books! I hope you like Magic for Beginners. I liked all the stories but some have stuck around and I still think about them from time to time. Is racing only eight weeks away? I know that “fun in a terrifying, wheels-sliding-all-over-the-place” feeling. It is exhilarating and miserable all at the same time.