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reading

I’m giving in, once more. Those of you who follow this blog know that my relationship with the Globe and Mail is mercurial – love it, hate it. When they endorsed Stephen Harper in the last election, I once again cancelled my subscription in fury. But I continue to read it at the Y and, often, to buy it.

Today, at the Y, I read a front page article on Doug Ford’s appalling plans for the waterfront – as Adam Vaughn said, “building a big, huge, honking mall” on the water – unbelievable. A suburban mind forty years out of date. The Globe reported on the secret meetings the mayor’s brother has held in order to come up with this great “vision.” It’s a good article. There are good columnists. Jon Stewart is on vacation. I’m gonna subscribe again.
Further pleasure of the page – I had resolved to read some classics this summer, and, as usual, my reading is way, way behind schedule (and soon another newspaper will be added to the pile!) But I did read Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, I’m ashamed to say for the first time. I’ve been meaning to read it for years, but it was Midnight in Paris that made me pick it off the bookshelf and place it beside my bed.
What a suberb work – voted by the Modern Library as the second best English-language novel ever. (Joyce’s Ulysees is #1.) Heart-breaking and beautifully crafted. I did find a few plot points a bit forced, the whole ending, for example, depending on convoluted decisions about who is driving whose car. And … can I be petty here? At the very end, Gatsby is in his pool on an air mattress when he is shot several times. The narrator Nick finds “the laden mattress” moving around the pool, tracing “a thin red circle in the water.”
Beautiful writing. But if bullets pierce an air mattress, does it continue to float? Just asking.
Classic bits of writing gave me goose bumps. “It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made …”
And the very last line, stunning: “And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Sigh. And to think this man drank himself to death. What a waste of a stunning talent. Now – to tackle Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.
While reading Modern Library’s list of the 100 Best Novels, I also read their list of the 100 best works of Non-Fiction, and was pleased to see that a book by Sir Peter Medawar, a scientist friend of my father’s, was #26. When I was about three, my parents left me in London with the Medawars for a week, while they went on vacation to Spain. Jean Medawar called me “Little Miss Peanut Butter.” And I still am.
I found a list of Sir Peter’s best quotes. Here’s my favourite:
The USA is so enormous, and so numerous are its schools, colleges and religious seminaries, many devoted to special religious beliefs ranging from the unorthodox to the dotty, that we can hardly wonder at its yielding a more bounteous harvest of gobb.”


You go, Sir.

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28 Responses to “reading”

  1. Chuck D says:

    I hope you're reading Flaubert in French, or at least, a reputable translation 🙂

  2. beth says:

    Hmmm – hadn't even thought about the translation. Haven't got it in French. I'll have to look into that. Thanks for keeping a close eye on my reading list!
    b.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

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Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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