Monday, October 02, 2006

Last week I read Marcel Proust by Edmund White, a short little biography with an admitted "homosexual bias." Right up my alley, then. And indeed, I enjoyed it very much. I was hooked from the first page when White says, "Studying him, of course, can have a disastrous effect on a young writer, who either comes under the influence of Proust's dangerously idiosyncratic and contagious style or who feels that Proust has already done everything possible in the novel form." I've noticed how contagious it is and I know some of the others participating in the group read have as well. It was interesting to learn that Proust's writing actually seemed old-fashioned to his contemporaries, but it is precisely that style that "renders it eternally fresh to us." While White writes about Proust with a homosexual bias, it isn't unwarranted given that Proust essentially turned his male lovers (some of whom had wives or girlfriends) into women in the book. Knowing this makes the male characters' jealousy when confronted with the women's affairs with other women make much more sense (White terms this "literary lesbianism." Heh). Anyway. I jotted down a couple more titles on Proust to read later and am still kicking myself for not hitting the biography tables at the gigantic booksale we went to yesterday where they apparently had several on Proust. Oh well. Maybe next year.

Saturday night I read Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales edited by Deborah Noyes. I love the exclamation point there. It's like the brightly colored balloons they had at the anarchist book fair - somehow out of place, but in a good way. Anyway. This is a teen anthology and I mostly checked it out because it has stories by M. T. Anderson and Neil Gaiman. Turns out those are the best ones of the bunch. Neil Gaiman's story "Forbidden Brides Of The Faceless Slaves In The Nameless House Of The Night Of Dread Desire" wasn't new to me - I'd seen him read it at an event and it was still as funny as the last time. M. T. Anderson's "Watch And Wake" was nice and creepy. Set in the same alternate reality as Thirsty, it's definitely in the style of that book and similarly bleak. Man, I really need to get his new book. There were only three others that I liked: the straightforward campfire style ghost story "Morgan Roehmar's Boys" by Vivian Vande Velde, "The Stone Tower" by Janni Lee Simner, and "Writing On The Wall" by Celia Rees. The others were all right, but didn't impress me that much.

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