Feed on

Aaah, Americana:

I’ve been applying to an online literary discussion group which involves listing favorite books, first one’s personal top 20, then others as requested by a panel of extant members. It has been a lot of fun so far, and is stirring up the dark, cobwebby stacks of my mental library and getting me to thinking of various literary kicks I have been on in the past.

At the moment, I am on a picaresque binge. Any sort of a road novel will go over big, and if it is rambunctious and debauched, so much the better. I think I am due for a re-read of Pickwick Papers and of G. K. Chesterton’s “The Flying Inn.” Much travel, absurdity, and bibulousness in both. How can you beat a guy getting so hammered at a cricket match that his only slightly-less-drunk buddy has to trundle him home in a wheelbarrow, and leaves him in an orchard? Or a guy who steals a barrel of rum and blasts all around England getting people buzzed, then buzzing off. Not to mention the scene lampooning the aesthetic movement. Too much fun.

Some years ago, I really dug Keroac’s On the Road but now that I have read so many other travel stories, I notice the lack of joy and exuberance in it. It reminds me of the scene in the movie “Dazed & Confused” where Cynthia sarcastically remarks “I think I’m gonna get drunk, maybe get laid, get in a fight.” It has its moments, like when they were hitching with the itinerant havesters, but overall, it has nothing on the utter insanity turned jewelers loupe that is Candide nor the lovesong to the backroads of America that William Least Heat Moon penned as Blue Highways.

While I was living overseas doing my MA and being utterly inundated with materials concerning early medieval England, I got myself into a little Southern Women kick, and read every bit of Carson McCullers I could get my hands on, Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Rita Mae Brown, Florence King, even the prolific, yet somehow indefinably irritating Joyce Carol Oates (why does this woman’s writing annoy me so vaguely yet persistantly?)

I’ve been on Science Fiction kicks, Japanese contemporary literature binges, folklore obsessions, Victorian bucolic swan-song wallows (hello Thomas Hardy!) and Victorian humorist deluges (anyone who hasn’t read Diary of a Nobody should. Especially my fellow online journallers.) I went on a Brendan O’Carrol bender a while back that led into a Roddy Doyle-fest. So. Much. Fun. I don’t know why I didn’t get to Roddy Doyle sooner, especially when I did see “The Snapper” years ago and about laughed myself into incontinence.

I’m due for a trip to the library this weekend, so I am trying to decide where my literary mood lies at the moment. Still feeling peripatetic, so I may look into more travelling stories. Also feeling a bizarre desire for literary comfort food and may look up the old Horation Hornblower books, which were a great favorite of mine when I was about 12 or 13. I liked them so much that I almost enjoyed Moby Dick even though the “I’m trying to make a point here” symbolism would occasionally un-suspend my disbelief and dump me off the salty decks of the ship, back into the puke-green walls of my highschool. Maybe now that I am not surrounded by a bunch of snotty teenagers who didn’t read their homework and a teacher who wanted to either spoon feed or hammer the subtleties of the book into us, I might dig it again. I am almost certain my youthful swashbuckling literary tastes are the main reason I loved Robin Hobb’s “Liveship” trilogy so much. Probably why I so vastly enjoyed the “Pirates of the Carribean” movie, also. Well, that and the utterly campy, eyelinered, daffy Johnny Depp. So funny, so hot.

Leave a Reply