Saturday, November 8, 2008

Outside the Canon

This summer I made a list of goals, one of which might have been to learn how to make cheese.  Needless to say, I didn't get around to churning any out (ha), but another more easily achieved goal was to start reading books outside the classic canon.  

While teaching, time limited what I could read, which I didn't find to be too much of a problem.  In the classes with a set curriculum, I ended up writing the scope and sequence so I had some control over what we covered.  (However, in high school Brit lit it's hard to maneuver around Beowulf and Canterbury Tales.  I attribute the majority of my desire to resign to the dread of reading Beowulf again, only slightly more intense than the dread of having my tires slashed again.)  In my other classes, I had total control over what we read and freedom to adjust our syllabus from year to year.  Feminist rhetoric anyone?  Just kidding.  Sorta.  We read what I would have read for pleasure anyway: things that I had slipped past while in school and things I'd always been curious about.  However, out of high mindedness or snobbery or duty, almost all selections came from "the canon."

Anyway, back to my summer goals...  so I started expanding my limited repertoire (sp?), so to speak, this summer.  Here are a few of the highlights:  

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
I'm in the middle of this one, but I likes.  It's been a funny distraction while waiting for reservations to arrive on slow nights at the restaurant.

What is the What by Dave Eggers
I love Dave Eggers, and I liked this, but it's a departure from his normal style.  I knew very little about the Sudan, and although I'm still confused about all the political details, the book paints a depressingly tragic and realistic picture of the situation from what I can tell.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
What to say other than I loved it like everyone else did?

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk
He's the weirdest.  ever.  I like him b/c he writes with an original and independent voice.  With that said, I won't be reading/watching Choke.  It is too much for me.

Independence Day by Richard Ford
People went crazy over this, but I couldn't get past how much I disliked the protagonist.  He was obnoxious and cowardly, and,  yes, I understand that's part of the point, and, no, I don't have to have a grinning hero protagonist in order to love a novel, but I still intensely dislike Frank Bascombe.

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