The Remains of the Blog

19 Oct

I’ve been trying to figure out why I’ve been in such a blogging slump, and then it hit me:  I haven’t been doing anything wacky lately.  I’m in a slump of normality.  That’s my problem.  I’m sure it will pass.  You can’t keep the crazy down forever.

Dumas’s tomb-sized tome is still too intimidating for me.  On Madhousewife’s recommendation, I picked up Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day instead.  It’s the story of an old-school English butler in postwar England as he reflects over his life and career.  For the first quarter of the book I thought, “This is delightful.”  By the end I was duly depressed.  But in a delightful way.  One of my favorite passages:

I had been rather pleased with my witticism when it had first come into my head, and I must confess I was slightly disappointed it had not been better received than it was.  I was particularly disappointed, I suppose, because I have been devoting some time and effort over recent months to improving my skill in this very area. … You will perhaps appreciate then my disappointment concerning my witticism yesterday evening.  At first, I had thought it possible its limited success was due to my not having spoken clearly enough.  But then the possibility occurred to me, once I had retired, that I might actually have given these people offence. … But this small episode is as good an illustration as any of the hazards of uttering witticisms.  By the very nature of a witticism, one is given very little time to assess its various possible repercussions before one is called to give voice to it, and one gravely risks uttering all manner of unsuitable things if one has not first acquired the necessary skill and experience.

See?  Delightful.  I highly recommend it.  Unless, of course, you are feeling at all lonely or the slightest bit suicidal.  I will definitely be reading more Ishiguro.

Last night I started Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night.  I read The Great Gatsby last month, and while I found myself somewhat disgusted by and completely uninvested in any of the characters, I fell in love with Fitzgerald’s prose.  It’s simply enchanting.  At the front of the book is an introduction offering a few details of the novel in context with what was going on in Fitzgerald’s own life as he wrote it.  Tragic.  That seems to be a common theme, almost a requirement, really, among great writers’ biographies, which makes me think I should be grateful to not be a great writer.  I’d like to keep my life as non-tragic as possible, thank you.

Speaking of which, I am off to the shower.  I am acutely aware of my own stank, and I’m afraid any further delay would only end in tragedy.  Happy Monday!


27 Responses to “The Remains of the Blog”

  1. tawnya October 19, 2009 at 11:43 am #

    I could talk Fitzgerald for days. My love knows no bounds!

  2. Alison Wonderland October 19, 2009 at 12:23 pm #

    I read this post. Every word.

  3. madhousewife October 19, 2009 at 12:31 pm #

    I’m glad you enjoyed Ishiguro. I recommend you read something fluffy after TSTN, though.

    I guess I’m glad I’m not a great writer, too.

  4. Kathy October 19, 2009 at 2:38 pm #

    I’ve never read Remains of the Day, so when I read your passage from the book I could swear I hear Data from Star Trek saying it… huh? huh?

    • bythelbs October 19, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

      I can see that, Kathy. Stevens, the butler, is very Data-ish in many respects.

      Anyone got any good fluffy read recommendations?

      • tawnya October 19, 2009 at 3:40 pm #

        There’s a Slight Chance I Might Be Going To Hell (which, sadly, seems appropriate for me today…)

        Austenland (Shannon Hale)

        I’m just starting the series that True Blood is based off of. The Charlaine Harris vampire series. It felt Halloween-y.

  5. bythelbs October 19, 2009 at 4:07 pm #

    I’ve read Austenland. It definitely fulfills the fluffy. It was a fun light read. I’ve read the first two books in the Sookie series. I’ve been on the library wait list for book 3 for at least a month.

    • tawnya October 19, 2009 at 4:10 pm #

      Well, I’m clearly of little help!

      How about:
      Nick Hornby’s new one, Juliet, Naked
      Anything by Jane Green or Elin Hildebrand (is that her name?)

      Ooooooo. New Cardiff by Charles Webb. One of my favorites.

      • bythelbs October 19, 2009 at 4:17 pm #

        Yeah, you’re almost completely useless.

        I’ll put these on the list. Thanks!

  6. bythelbs October 19, 2009 at 4:10 pm #

    I just now got that There’s a Slight Chance I Might Be Going to Hell is the title of a book. I thought you were ashamed of the books you were recommending.

    • tawnya October 19, 2009 at 4:11 pm #

      Hahahahahahahahahahaha….sorry. I definitely could have been more clear!

      • bythelbs October 19, 2009 at 4:21 pm #

        I’m sure you can understand my mistake. After all, it’s not exactly a phrase you haven’t used before. Or needed to use. (I feel I can tease you because we’re cut from the same cloth on this one.)

  7. shazza October 19, 2009 at 4:16 pm #

    Can.not stand Fitzy.

    Read this one:

    Not necessarily light, but easy to read and worth it.

    or this one:

    the very definition of fluff. (Tawnya, did you see that her new book comes out on the 27th?)

    • bythelbs October 19, 2009 at 4:37 pm #

      Can.not stand. Well, I guess I’ll have to see how tender I find Tender.

      Thanks for the recommendations. I’ll check those out!

      • bythelbs October 19, 2009 at 4:46 pm #

        I am number 6 on the holds list for Everyone Is Beautiful. There are 3 holdable copies. Coolio.

    • tawnya October 19, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

      Oh, yes. Katherine Center. Definitely.

      I didn’t see that. Wheeeee!

  8. tawnya October 19, 2009 at 4:20 pm #

    I think that should go on my tombstone…”mostly completely useless” or “I told you I was sick” just to, you know, jab at Isaac from the beyond.

    • bythelbs October 19, 2009 at 4:22 pm #

      Definitely “I told you I was sick”. Definitely!

      • tawnya October 19, 2009 at 4:25 pm #

        Right? Although, if I did that, there REALLY IS a slight chace I’d go to hell…

  9. Mother of the Wild Boys October 20, 2009 at 7:50 am #

    🙂 That’s all I have to say. 🙂

  10. cheryl October 20, 2009 at 9:18 am #

    Fluffy or Light (but not necessarily one or the other. Light to me usually means I can read it in a day; Fluffy means it’s like a comforter. Or my gag reflex. But these books didn’t make me gag! At all! I promise. That is all):

    “Eat Cake” by Jeanne Ray

    “Bound On Earth” by Angela Hallstrom (liked this one a lot, actually)

    “Two Old Women” by Velma Wallis

    Anything by Janette Rallison –she does YA fiction and it’s freakin’ hilarious. It’s all the same type of stuff: teen angst, boyfriends, problems, but the situations her heroines find themselves in are just too funny. I always laugh when I read her books. Her two most recent “My Fair Godmother” and “Just One Wish” are top-notch. I think you’d like “My Fair Godmother.”

    Of course, I could be wrong, too. 😉

  11. madhousewife October 20, 2009 at 1:39 pm #

    There’s always the fighting kitties! 😉

  12. Julie October 20, 2009 at 3:05 pm #

    I’m thinking the Anthony Hopkins movie Remains of the Day is based on this novel? I loved it. And it’s depressing.

    Cheryl, I thought Eat Cake was just okay.

    You’ve read the Potato Peel Pie one, right, Lbs? I l to the o to the v to the e to the d to the ed it. In fact, I think that I took the time to type that out like that is proof positive of my love.

    I wish I was a more avid reader so I could recommend something really obscure or cool or whatever, but I’m not, so I’ll just say I’m reading Emma by Austen and loving it.

    Oh, have you ever read Desiree by AnneMarie Silenko? This is the Amazon link:
    It was a really fun read.

    Also, Fairest, which I’m guessing you’ve read, but it’s worth throwing out there.

    One more fluffy, young adult fiction that was cute and fun was Flipped by Wendy vansomebody.
    It was sweet, funny, and quick.

    Now you’ve seen my reading list for the last year and a half, possibly 2 years.

    • bythelbs October 20, 2009 at 3:14 pm #

      I have not read the Potato Peel one yet. It’s on my list. I haven’t read Fairest either, but DynaGirl has and she loved it. Thank you for the suggestions!

      And yes, that was the movie with Anthony Hopkins. I’ve never seen it. Maybe I’ll rent it when I’m not feeling at all lonely or the slightest bit suicidal.

  13. tawnya October 20, 2009 at 3:17 pm #

    Ella Minnow Pea. Also good. Fast to read, as well.

  14. boquinha October 20, 2009 at 6:43 pm #

    I second the Potato Peel Pie book. Again. I’m afraid we’re over-hyping it. I loved it, too. It’s not earth shattering or the best book ever, but it’s very enjoyable and the characters are wonderful.

  15. cheryl October 22, 2009 at 2:39 pm #

    Eat Cake was just okay, this is true. That’s why I put it into the fluff category. 🙂

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