Maybe A Dance To The Music Of Time has finally worn me down. It’s beaten me up, bruised me, tossed me around like a Cabbage Patch Kid without a leg. Because, somehow, I’m willing to say the fourth book in the series, At Lady Molly’s, wasn’t that bad.
It’s not that anything changed with Anthony Powell’s style. It’s not that, all of the sudden, the plot took off and became action-packed and filled with suspense.
I still would say A Dance To The Music Of Time might be compared to the most boring reality show ever, a show in which the main characters sit around and talk about history and go to social parties to discuss the merits of Communism over a glassy of sherry.
All of that is still the same. I think the characters are just finally starting to grow on me. After nearly 1,000 pages of reading, I would hope a few of these characters would begin to seem interesting. And they have.
Every now and then on this blog, we’ll step out of the world of books and into a world that makes the world of books possible. That would be the world of words. Words.
We’ve talked about annoying words and disgusting words and even pleasant words. And, of course, since this is an English-speaking blog, I focus on English words.
Today, let’s take a look at impossible-to-spell words. Or at least words that I find impossible to spell.
These aren’t words like pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis or even floccinaucinihilipilification (both actual words) that I couldn’t be expected to spell if you gave me 24 hours and one of those wild-eyed spelling bee kids, like this girl, as a tutor.
These are simple words, words that we’ve heard and written all our lives. But for some reason, these words are the bane of my spelling existence. I simply can’t put the letters in the right order.
Last week, I made a mistake.
My wife and I celebrated our anniversary by going on a Caribbean vacation that we’ve been planning for awhile. Obviously, that wasn’t the mistake.
Despite meticulously planning this trip for more than a year, I completely ignored one of my cardinal rules of beach reading—a subject we have discussed on this blog before.
I ignored the fact that some books simply aren’t beach reading material. Instead of looking for another book on the list, I took my current read, Under The Volcano, with me. And there was my mistake.
It’s that time again. It’s time for me to try and make sense of the last five novels, and attempt to place them somewhere in my meaningless rankings. Never before has such a pointless, inconsequential act been undertaken.
Aren’t you excited now? All right, then. Let’s carry on.
Malcolm Lowry, author of Under The Volcano, was the stereotypical great writer–alcoholism, relationship issues, early and unfortunate death.
The coroner called Lowry’s passing a “death by misadventure”–he was thought to have overdosed on a lethal mixture of sleeping pills and alcohol. At 47, he died young, with a brilliant career behind him and a full life still ahead of him.
In 1976, the National Film Board of Canada put together a documentary called Volcano: An Inquiry Into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry. It explores his “death by misadventure” and looks back at his life, with passages from Under The Volcano read by Richard Burton. The film was Oscar nominated, and you can watch the whole thing here.
Oh, but that’s not all!
This project is 40% done, people. The next time I do a “look back” post like this, 101 Books will be halfway complete! What will I do?
Today’s post is simply a review of some highlights and lowlights from the first 40 novels. It’s a 101 Books Award Show, if you will, except that there are no awards to hand out and no drunken celebrities to present them.
Let us begin.
For the first time in like 8 trillion days, I left my book at home one morning a few weeks ago.
This cruel realization struck me when I got in my car during my lunch break and noticed an empty passenger seat—the seat that usually provides warmth and comfort to my book of choice while I’m at work.
I felt broken, beaten, shattered and ashamed. Other than eat, what should I do for the next hour? How would I survive a lunch break without a book?
Yes, this is a “first world problem” at its finest. That said, I needed a gameplan…and fast!
So what did I do? I wrote the outline for this post—which means I didn’t actually do any of these things. But had I not wrote a post about doing these things, I would have certainly done one of these things. For sure. No doubt.
Five Things To Do At Lunch When You Forget Your Book
And onward we go. Book #41 will be Under The Volcano by Malcolm Lowry, another novel that will cause me to jump in the cold water.
The novel tells the story of an alcoholic British consul, Geoffrey Firmin, in a small Mexican town on the Day of the Dead. The entire story takes place in one day’s time.
Some quick facts about Under The Volcano and Malcolm Lowry:
What were you doing when you were 23?
Me? I was flailing around out west, burning gas and running up credit card debt, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
Carson McCullers? She was writing a literary masterpiece that is considered by most critics to be one of the top novels of the 20th Century. Man, we were such slackers at 23.
If you don’t like C.S. Lewis, what’s wrong with you? From what far away land of haters did you come?
But that’s neither here nor there. Even if you weren’t into the Narnia books and don’t care to read Lewis’s Christian nonfiction, you’ve got to admit the guy was an impressive writer, right? His creativity and imagination alone in writing the Narnia series is astounding.
I’m a big Lewis fan, so when I saw this letter he wrote in response to a young girl’s fan mail, my heart was warmed (Please excuse the awful passive voice in that sentence. My editor is underpaid.)
It’s such a friendly, warm letter which made me like Lewis even more as a person. The best part of the letter is the 5 writing tips he gives to the young girl in closing. These are outstanding, insightful tips.