Wednesday, January 23, 2008


The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse
In Fes, I froze. I found that the warmest spot in the house was in my bed, well tucked-in under heavy woolen blankets, and so much of my non-class time was spent cocooned in a cross-legged hunch, reading. Hesse's alternate Europe of scholars appealed, and the game distracted me from the surrounding chill. I'm jealous that girls don't get into academic utopia, and I found that reading it made me want to pick up a chessman again. Still, I get the feeling something got lost either in time or translation.

Blindness by José Saramago
Wow. The world goes blind and society falls apart - beautifully. A man at a red light loses his vision, and this milky white blindness spreads as a contagion. He haunted me, and I devoured the novel whole in two days.

The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco
"To survive, we must tell stories." A man sent to spy on the secrets of a ship seeking the solution to longitude finds himself stranded in a cove far, far from home and decides he's discovered the antipodal meridian. He ponders the strange island on the other side of this invisible line, across the date change, an island permanently stranded in the day before. It's classic Eco and therefore automatically a favorite. Unfortunately, I lent it to a classmate who in turn lent it to a stranger and now I doubt my copy will ever return. I hate people who don't return books (and people who lend books that aren't theirs to lend.)

The Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid
Jamaica Kincaid specializes in a sort of angry poetry. I read "Girl" in AP English and "A Small Place" for Carribean Literature, and while The Autobiography of My Mother left me unnerved at times, it also made me pull out my notebook to scribble down quotes:

"A human being, a person, many people, a people, will say that their surroundings, their physical surroundings, form their consciousness, their very being; they will get up every morning and look at green hills, white cliffs, silver mountains, fields of golden grain, rivers of blue-glinting water, and in the beauty of this - and it is beautiful, they cannot help but find it beautiful - the invisibly, magically, conquer the distance that is between them and the beauty they are beholding, and they feel themselves become one with it, they draw strength from it, they are inspired by it to sing songs, to compose verse; they invent themselves and reinvent themselves and they are inspired (again), but this time to commit small actions, small deeds, and eventually large actions, large deeds, and each success brings a validation of the original idea, the original feeling, the meeting of people and place, you and the place you are from are not a chance encounter; it is something beyond destiny, it is something so meant to be that it is beyond words."

"The present is always perfect. No matter how happy I had been in the past I do not long for it. The present is always the moment for which I live. The future I never long for, it will come or it will not; one day it will not. But it does not loom up before me, I am never in a state of anticipation, The future is not even like the black space above the sky, with an intermittent spark of light; it is more like a room with no ceiling or floor or walls, it is the present that gives it such a shape, it is the present that encloses it. The past is a room full of baggage and rubbish and sometimes things that are of use, but if they are of real use, I have kept them."

No comments: