Reading Now

I picked up "You, or Someone Like You" by Chandler Burr yesterday; I'm halfway through.

It's about Jewish ethnoreligiousity, or religioethnicity, literature/language, and Hollywood, and New York. There's too much name dropping, and strange punctuation which distract and bore me, even though the protagonist complains about others' unorthodox (read: incorrect) punctuation. And there's not enough literary detail for the shallow, ill-read to construct a reading list based on the protagonist's description. Darn.

Yet, I so get the Jew-ish-ness, (it's Burr who put in the first hyphen,) because it is so similar to Japanese-ness; the family, the all encompassing love and the very narrow but unspoken definition of "us", (notice I didn't say "I" or "we",) one agrees to to receive that love; the straying but not entirely discarding.

I go back to my third year in college when I sensed English Literature in an American university meant literature from the British Isles, (yes, we read Synge, too,) whereas I grew up believing it was anything in the English language, (as it is understood by many Japanese), no matter what variation; I contemplated ditching my beloved Dr Vane (whose grading policies I understood) in favor of Dr Moyer (who was an unknown quantity, the dad of a friend and a step-dad of another). I was weak; I always stuck with professors I loved. And when discovered Joyce's regret for/anger at never having gotten the call, and his need to leave Dublin in order to love it, well, I thought Deity made Dr Vane choose Joyce for my BA and I hung on, just. I still wonder if that was the right choice.

Right now I have a love/hate relationship with the book; I think it's described as "layered"; I think it's going to be my best read of 2009.


Meg said...

Review on National Radio, Nine to Noon: http://static.radionz.net.nz/assets/audio_item/0017/2150072/ntn-20091203-1039-Book_Review_-_You_or_Someone_Like_You-m048.asx

Dorothy said...

A surprising amount of American literature creeps into UK English Lit. syllabuses (Catcher in the Rye, Arthur Miller, Ezra Pound, Tennessee Williams) lots of Irish literature too. But not one of my favourites, Janet Frame, I found her when a short story was read on the radio. Are there other writers from New Zealand should we know more of?

Meg said...

From what I understand, Janet Frame is even more famous in the US than in NZ, though she is pretty famous here. I don't read many of the standard NZ literature, but I don't like Elizabeth Knox, I can say that much.

I love C K Stead's fiction and non fiction, though he is most famous as a poet, I think. Hamish Keith's art writing, I love, but you may need to know some NZ art to appreciate, and I'm still constantly Googling his stuff on the 80's. The same with Jill Trevelyan.

Owen Marshall's short stories are wonderful, but often, to me, gruesome and dark. Though to me dated, Kathleen Mansfield is pleasant. And for history, Michael King.

Authentic Kiwis, your opinion???

Kath said...

Huh? I feel sooooooooo dumb! You may as well have been speaking Japanese in that post Meg!! hahhaha I TOLD you there was a reason I wrote Kids' songs! Oh and it's Katherine Mansfield =)

Meg said...

Right you are. I was just telling Ben I have yet to meet a Kiwi Kathleen!

Anonymous said...

Keri Hulme's The Bone People and her short stories are my Aotearoa New Zealand favourites. Sadly, she doesn't seem to publish much nowadays.

Meg said...

I got started on "The Bone People" years ago and didn't last the distance... Perhaps I should give it another go.

I do prefer non-fiction, though. I don't know why - some Kiwi fiction is too dark for me. I disliked "Rain" very much - I think that was the title. I liked "The Worrier Queen" but that was a very light read.