Sunday, April 03, 2011

what might do

I’d like now to read a book that is sad and haunted. Not haunted as in ghosts but infused maybe with the past or hope or illness or regret or something that didn’t happen but might have. Children could play a role, not a bunch of them, and not as the focus, but they could be there for perspective even just as a memory because vulnerability is important. As for grownups, I don’t mind characters who are despicable because how else would I see myself. I don’t go in much for love stories but love might roost in the margins or be disappointing or cause a tragedy before going up in smoke. I appreciate a well-built sentence and I’ve nothing against fragments used in an unaffected way. A good vocabulary is my weak spot. I’m also into fireplaces and watching fires. I love a light snowfall and the smell of manure and all the tricks the wind can do. If animals walk in let them be lobsters or lunatic chimps but not dogs or cats and birds are boring. There’s no time like the present though long ago would work – I avoid the 70s although that wouldn’t rule reading out for me if the book had other things going for it. I like a U.S. setting whether city, suburb or mountaintop, but Europe is also fine into its new eastern reaches and I’m persuadable on Asia. The story might also take place in a small airplane. I like suspense and men with beards. Of all nuts, peanuts. I don’t need a happy ending but let someone come to an understanding or acceptance and go on living, or die with insight, or solve a puzzle, thwart an enemy, or better yet let someone realize what an asshole he or she has been.

16 comments:

Jeff said...

Two thoughts -

The Thirteenth Tale by Elizabeth Berg

This one I think fits most of your requirements.

One More Theory About Happiness by Paul Guest

Has some excellent writing that's woven around a memoir of injury. I'm in the midst of this one now...

- Jeff

A. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A. said...

Well, I started to stumble over my fingers I was so excited by Jeff's recommendation. I also vote for The Thirteenth Tale by Elizabeth Berg.

Can I also recommend Le Grand Meaulnes? I like to read it when I am in a certain regretful mood.

singularity88 said...

"The Great Divorce" by CS Lewis

Fits a good number of the requirements.

a.m. said...

_Sleepless nights_ -- Elizabeth Hardwick

_The snows of yesteryear_ (orig. _Blumen im Schnee_) -- Gregor von Rezzori

_The man who loved children_ -- Christina Stead

_The mountain lion_ -- Jean Stafford

_A summons to Memphis_ -- Peter Taylor

a.m. said...

Two more distinctly past-haunted books: _The house in Paris_ by Elizabeth Bowen and _The Leopard_ by Giuseppe di Lampedusa. And now I'll stop.

SarahJane said...

so very nice to get suggestions. i will certainly make a list. Of all these I have only read The Man Who Loved Children, which I enjoyed a lot. My husband has often recommended The Leopard.

thanks

SarahJane said...

Is The Thirteenth Tale maybe by Diane Setterfield? I don't find such a title by Elizabeth Berg.

A. said...

Diana Setterfield is the correct author. It really is an excellent book, and pairs nicely with Jane Eyre.

Jeff said...

Well...I did get the title right...

Can I make it up with an extra credit assignment?

- Jeff

Chris said...

"out stealing horses" by per petterson. there is, i must warn, a dog or two and a conspicuous absence of peanuts. but, what begs its inclusion here, is the haunt of the past, a light snowfall and a quiet persistence in existing.

ron hardy said...

I think the English translation of Le Grand Meaulnes is called The Wanderer. I suggest John Fowles' Daniel Martin. No lobsters but I believe a rabid chimp is piloting the small plane.

Kathleen said...

I like seeing all these recommendations. As I re-read your post, I think the Gina Berriault stories would also hit the spot.

SarahJane said...

"A conspicuous absence of peanuts" would make a good title.
Or even just "Conspicuous Peanuts."
"Conspicuous Peanuts on a Plane."
"Conspicuous Peanuts on a Plane Piloted by Jumbo Shrimp."

Chris said...

Heh. Good titles, all.

Also:

"A Confederacy of Never-there, Lightly Salted Nuts"

OR

"A Parliament of Peanuts, Proroguing"

SarahJane said...

I'm about 2/3s into Paul Auster's "Oracle Night" at the moment, and it fits the bill uncannily.

Chris - love your titles, too. The parliament reminds me of Lorca's poem with the parliament of grasshoppers.

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