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And Now, We Take A Breather.

Hey. Sometimes I just wanna talk about books and maybe movies and maybe red wine. Not kids. Here is some random book chatter:

--- Yesterday I finished a novel by Thomas Hardy, JUDE THE OBSCURE. It was sort of heart-wrenching but without any real emotional connect... which made it feel somewhat distant to me the whole time. That's not my favorite quality in fiction. It would have made a fabulous Joy Division album, but it made for a weird read. Plus, I hated all the characters. I could go on, but I would hate to throw any spoilers into the mix here. Maybe you want to read it. You could do worse ( Marley and Me!...Psyche! I liked that book!)

Lets just say, I am glad I dove into it but by the end I was happy to lay the crabby thing down for this lifetime. It's not bad, mind you. Just astoundingly depressing. Hardy quit writing fiction forever after this one: so strong were reader's reactions to the (vague) sexuality and deep class divisions that anchor the themes.

--- I loved Hardy's FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD though. Just beautifully written. Some real thrilling natural descriptions here. One, a thunderstorm passage, is up there with Lear on the heath. From what I gather this book is seen as a bit more mainstream than JUDE. I don't know. Who decides these things? I read this one just prior to JUDE and wanted another dose of old English country living just like it(as one does!) Instead, with JUDE THE OBSCURE... I got a shaken can of fizzy sadness.

-- I am starting a long Dickens novel I haven't read. I love Charles Dickens so much that I have a lot of trouble reading other writers after I spend time with him. I won't list what I'm reading so no one spoils it for me. I will say this though... 12 pages in and its already *****. Sadly, I am a pretty slow reader so I may not hit the end til August. I think my Zoloft gives me ADD. Ugh.

--I recently bought crisp new copies of WAR AND PEACE by Tolstoy and DON QUIXOTE by Cervantes. They are right over there, at eye level, on our bookshelf. I glare at them twenty times a day, like a kid looking at his unfilled Christmas stocking. They are supposedly two of the greatest novels ever written and I have been eager to hit them up for many years now. I think this is going to be the year. Maybe after I finish A CHRISTMAS CAROL (psyche again!!). Has anyone ever done either opus? Do you think Violet would enjoy one or the other? (See...I always tie in Violet).

--About a year ago I read the novel, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, by Ron Hansen. Brad Pitt starred in the film not too long ago. Let me just say of the best novels I've ever read. Fascinating, riveting, engaging, blah blah blah. I finished it in a German hotel room by myself. For awhile after it ended I sat back on the bed and just fucking stared at the ceiling eating chocolate and drinking Coke Light. The final words of the book zipped around the room for a spell like flies high on dogshit. I'll never forget how sad I felt that night, sad it was all over forever for me. I love that feeling...I feel strangely lucky when it comes.

--I'd love to hear what you might be reading. I don't care what it might be. I bounce around but my favorites are the 19th century novels. Just let me know what you've been devouring... that's all.

Reader Comments (36)


Have you considered writing a screenplay? rock musician changing poop diapers...if you didn't laugh, you'd cry, huh?
(I'm a fan)

Anyways, As Dads we're expected to be fearless, brave, and hard but the truth is most days I like I probably know what that fella that landed a jet in the river Hudson must've felt like.

Keep writing buddy,

Chai Patel

PS I'm serious about the screenplay. Most people aren't as eloquent during this particular crossroad(rollercoaster)

May 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchai patel

Reading the science of hitting by the late great Ted Williams

Chai Patel

May 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchai patel

River God
by: Wilbur Smith.

May 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermizkylie

Thunder Pie
by: Serge Bielanko
You are better than 95% of writers out there. Just write a fecking book already.

May 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWife?

Thanks for the recommendations. Always good to get... I was introduced to Pete Dexter through Springsteen's music (during "Big Muddy" - "You watch what you do / Poison snake bites you and you're poison too". That was from Paris Trout, a great book. That led me to all of Dexter's other stuff. Deadwood also really good.

May 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPete

For Whom The Bell Tolls- Hemingway. Galapagos- Kurt Vonegot(?). Long Way Down- Hornby :). and now I'm on Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, which it seems it will take years to read.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Rabbit, Run by John Updike

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJustin

I am half way through my first ever Hemmingway - To Have and Have Not. I didn't really know what to expect but I am really enjoying it.

Next week I have a weeks holiday in a tent by the coast and looking forward to The Snows of Kilimanjaro too. Thanks for the blog - fantastic writing.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKeith

If you liked Far From the Madding Crowd, read The Mayor of Casterbridge. As you more than likely know, Hardy wrote his novels in magazine installments. I can imagine people hanging on every word, waiting for the next issue.

You're a wonderful writer, Serge. Keep the postings coming.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

That's not the book I expected to see hear at all but it is so badass. I read Mike Schmidts' batting book. Williams' has to be better...more old school pure.

Ted Williams was also a helluva fly fisherman. And he is frozen. So, he's three for three.

Keep the title coming people.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSerge

I agree w/ Justin, the whole Rabbit series, (Rabbit Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich Rabbit at Rest) are amazing.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

And I can't spell Williams. Fuck.

I gotta go.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSerge

I meant to include Chai Patel's comment on Ted Wiiliams THE ART OF HITTING in my comment above. But now I see that I don't actually know how to do that because I am an idiot...

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSerge

just finished a book called 'the silver linings playbook' by matthew quick, a first novel from a philly/jersey guy, pubbed late last year, i believe. very good read. don't want to give too much away but it covers a lot of ground - lost love, quality time at the mental institution, uncommunicative father, doting mother, obsessive-compulsive exercise routines, tailgating at eagles games - great pace and a depth of feeling that's rare these days. check it out, if you can find time. congrats by the way on violet, and the blog is a welcome sight ...

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermbaron

I'm reading Infinite Jest-David Foster Wallace, and to make sure I don't kill myself, I'm reading the Spellman Files series thing by Lisa Lutz.
Infinite Jest is incredibly funny and depressing and plain horrible and a lot of the times confusing. Spellman files are those light comedy/love things goin' on.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn

Reading "Second Nature" by Michael Pollan. Same guy who wrote "Omnivore's Dilemma." Awesome book about gardening on the face of it but really about our very weird views of nature and what is wild and what is not. We Americans are really fucked up about this stuff, as he points out, we believe either we must leave nature absolutely alone (which we do for one percent of the land) or give it over to strip mall developers (the other 99%). He also makes great point that nature is not necessarily benign or geared up to create our hoped for idylls and that man is (gasp) part of nature.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfellowdad

Just finished Street Gang: A Complete History of Sesame Street.

Just started Brisingr by Christopher Paolini, which is the third book in teh Eragon series. The books are good - the movie was horrible.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I loved Water for Elephants. It is really enthralling. I seriously devoured it in three days. Couldn't put it down. I convinced my husband to read it (he usually doesn't read fiction at all) and he felt the same. I highly recommend it.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Tom Robbins - Even Cowgirls Get the Blues -- i'll admit it may be a bit more of a chick book...but I LOVE him. This is one of my favorite books of all time, I've read it at least a dozen times. However I have never, and will NEVER see even one minute of the movie. This should never have been put to film - even by Gus Van Sant. the imagery is something that must exist only in the reader's own mind! (PS - I see i'm not the only one who thinks you should write a book :)

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermcsweenz

Whenever I visit my mother in law in SLC I stop by the great King's English Bookshop and take home 3 or 4 excellent books I have never heard of before.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjimbo

I just read "I Know this Much is True" by Wally Lamb and "People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks. I read "Jude" in college. I agree, I didn't like a lot of the characters but I still enjoyed the book.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterhockeychic

Am I the only person who reads non-English lit books? I have a BA in English, I've read a lot of those books. But for sometimes the shit is too heavy for me to dive into Tolstoy. Also, I hated Jude the Obscure. Never read Far From the Maddening Crowd, but I did read The Mayor of Casterbridge. Eh.

If you're going to go all 19th century, read Middlemarch. Or something fun, like The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. Personally, I am obsessed with Little Dorrit after watching the PBS series. That's going to be one of my summer books. I'm a chick, so I reread almost all of Jane Austen in the summer, on the beach.

But, right now the book I'm carrying around is not one of those, it's Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman. It's not changing my life, but it's interesting.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEDW

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane - not quite as good as Mystic River but still great. I'm going through his back catalog and it's all really good. Just finished the new Nelson Demille and it was pretty disappointing but most of his stuff is fun to read.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

All Wally Lamb books are great. She's Come Undone, I Know This Much Is True and his latest, The Hour I First Believed. I couldn't put any of them down once I picked them up.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Cool. Just ordered a copy of Schmidts book on hitting. Williams was a bad ass and even more badass for being frozen! That's crazy. I had no idea. Maybe in a million years scientists can Benjamin Button him and he can play ball forever and ever. I wanna watch that movie. Other books being read include "Shutter Island" by D. Lehane and the new Dora the explorer novels(we mainly just tearing the damn thing to shreds).


May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChai

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