READING SERIOUSLY AND HAVING FUN DOING IT

by michael on March 31, 2011

Perhaps the above is the motto of the Phoenix Book Club. We do have literary fun. I’ll think of something more cogent as we blog through. Is blog really a word? The American Heritage of 1979 says not. Didn’t that year celebrate the advent of the TRS 80, and the Wang word processor. You see, computers really do expand your vocabulary.
Okay, what weren’t we talking about.

From a review of my scribbling, I’ll announce that 2007 was a very good year. At the top of the list was John le Carre’s “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold,” followed by the “Great Gatsby,” St Exupery’s “Night Flight” and John Steinbeck’s “The Winter of Our Discontent.” “Winter” I consider one of the best books in our language. Therefore, I’ll save it for its own blog.

The Bookies really liked “Spy” which develops many of le Carre’s themes, strung along a great storyline. It also established le Carre as a writer to reckon with. Wouldn’t we all like that? Later I selected other le Carre writings and came under egregious criticism from my colleagues. Lesson: a little is okay, a lot is boring.

Antoine de Saint Exupery is a rare combination of a writer who ventures out to test his writing against life: a French Hemingway as it were. Antoine’s writing is brilliant and his descriptive passages of flying are haunting. The early “mail pilots” were all brave men who lived most of the time in harm’s way. The Bookies took to him so strongly that we will read all his work. He died at age 44 while flying a reconnaissance mission for the Free French Forces.

The monthly reading for 2007 also incuded Hemingway, Chekhov, Simon, Benet, Twain, Remarque and Coleridge. Indeed, a very good year.

Michael J. Keyser

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