My sister says I should read better books. What the hell does that mean? It started when I was commenting about a recent read; That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo. Sure my take on the book had some negative elements. Yes, I cast aspirations on several themes and characters but nothing damning in the grand sense. She says I should read better books. Well Mr. Russo has a ton of admirers and although I have been equally reserved in consideration of two previous reads (Straight Man and Bridge of Sighs), I think I have given him a fair shake.
Maybe it was my prior moaning and groaning over the V.S. Naipaul volume The Enigma of Arrival that set her off. I wasn’t disparaging the writing as much as I was thrown off kilter by the pace and vacuity of certain passages. In fact a friend wrote to warn me off discussing Naipaul out loud indicating that if certain knowledgeable readers of the female persuasion caught wind of my engagement with the (apparent) blaggard Naipaul my name would be mudd. Is my sister such a person?
Taking her advice to heart I searched my bookshelf and took down a sure winner, the classic Howard’s End by the widely esteemed E.M. Forester. Could this not be perfect? In fact I liked it well enough to finish it which, for many, is a testament in itself. Indeed I enjoyed the portrayal of the budding feminist agenda through the tale of the Schlegel sisters. Even hints at the class struggle in the first part of 20th century England were entertaining, however the novel had an overarching banality associated with all too many soap operas especially of the British gentry variety popular with the PBS crowd.
Fearing that I have not yet reached properly for the “better books” Maureen has urged on me I have gone for the gold standard. Down came Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes. How can I go wrong, right? Me and my sister are both true blue 5th generation all Irish siblings. Even as we drag our sorry asses out from under the train wreck known as the Catholic Church we are still our parent’s children, imbued with the straight lineage up through our sweet aunts, screwy uncles and sanctified grandparents.
I’m gonna do it sister. I’m reading better books… even if it’s killing me with sadness.