Rabbit, Run and others

I have just begun Rabbit, Run by John Updike, and I've decided to do something different with this blog. Since most of what I've been reading all semester has been stuff I've already read (in preparation for class), I haven't felt compelled to comment on it. Now that the summer is here, I have a fearsome stack of to-be-reads, and I want to chronicle my reading a bit better. So, I'm going to try to post each day or something close to it to allow room for ongoing commentary instead of just the closing thoughts. I think this new format will give me a more complete picture of my reading.

For instance, I read a few months ago Birdy by William Wharton and was considerably interested in the characterization and sheer queerness of this boy who thought he was a bird and his equally odd friend. However, the ending was so disappointing that the overall experience was a negative one. It was as if the author had this tremendous idea for a story and then couldn't at all figure out how to end it. When I post only at the end, I focus primarily on my final feelings, which in this case were less than complimentary. Had I been posting all along, I could have been bringing to light the positive elements (of which there were several): interesting passages, questions, and things I learned along the way.

Other stuff I've read recently doesn't exactly fall in the category of quality literature, but I like to keep an accurate count of what and how much I read each year, so for numbers sake: Fields of Gold by Andy Stanley was "assigned" by our pastor during a 2 week study on giving; The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman came about after a marriage retreat and some subsequent conversations; The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli was another effort to finally read all the books for young people I have stored in my basement, plus a Newbery Medal winner (although I wasn't thoroughly impressed with it).

And now I've checked out the Updike from the library, and I'm hating on the actual book (not the content of the book) because it's an old paperback with a heavy library binding on it which makes the pages hard to turn, and its old book smell is not a pleasant one. I'm half-tempted to take it back and buy the durn thing instead. But I won't. I will soldier on. And as I am only on page 47, I can't even comment much on the storyline. I will say that I taught Updike's 1980 short story "Gesturing" this semester and really liked the tone he struck. Published originally in Playboy, it contibutes to that great truism that some great stuff gets published in that abhorrent publication.

So, here's an in progress quote from Rabbit, Run, pp. 40-41 - "Throughout the early morning, those little hours that are so black, the music keeps coming and the signs keep pointing. His brain reels like a frail but alert invalid with messengers bringing down long corridors all this music and geographical news. At the same time he feels abnormally sensitive on the surface, as if his skin is thinking."

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