Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Readings: How It Works

Here’s how it’s supposed to work:

On a Saturday morning, I make a routine trip into town to go to the public library. I have a book to return, but no intention of borrowing anything on this visit. Nonetheless, a new memoire by novelist Anne Rice catches my eye, and I take it out on a whim. Somewhere in the book, Rice mentions that one of her sources in researching her two novels about Jesus has been Paula Fredriksen. Since I’d come across that name in reading before and had made a mental note to one day check her out, this reference became the occasion for me to borrow this book from the university library.

In reading Fredriksen, I was led, in a footnote concerning a passage from the Gospel of Mark, to this book by the critic Frank Kermode, and duly borrowed it from the university library as well. In his book, Kermode uses a novel entitled Party Going by Henry Green to illustrate the mechanism of interpreting a narrative. Kermode made the novel seem interesting enough that I wanted to read it too.

Having decided to write about all this, I began searching for a link to a description of Party Going to use for this post. What I learned was that has no information on it, because the book is apparently not currently in print. I went, therefore, to Wikipedia for this article, which mentions Kermode’s use of Party Going, and also notes that Green’s best-known work is another novel entitled Loving. I have since borrowed both of these Green novels from the university library and added them to my "to read" stack. And so it goes.

My intention in writing about these things is that somebody, anybody, happening across my site might be prompted by my serial enthusiasms to hunt down at least some of these books and read them.

Hey, listen—it couldn’t hurt.