Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Blogmas 2k15: Day 8-- Authors I Have Never Read . . . But probably Should



Since 1988, there has not been a time when I have not been in school, either as a student, a teacher, or a combination thereof.  As over-educated as I am,  there are several corners of the western literary cannon that I have yet to explore-- some of which may surprise you.

Homer: Somehow I managed to get through both high school and college without reading either the Iliad or the Odyssey in ts entirety.  Like anyone, I know enough about either story to be dangerous, but I've never cracked the spine of either work  Given how important either epic is to the CREATION OF CULTURE AS WE KNOW IT, this is kind of a big deal.  

Dante: Even though I am familiar with the whole "Abandon all hope ye who enter" thing and the architecture of Dante's afterlife, I've never gotten past the first two cantos of the Divine Comedy.  I should probably make an effort to actually read this cultural touchstone and not, y'know, the Spark Notes.  

George Eliot: I believe I won one or two of Eliot's novels in thrift editions picked up in order to meet free-shipping thresholds, but I have never read any of them.  To be honest, I like the idea of being someone who has read George Eliot, but finding the motivation to turn the idea into action escapes me.  My greatest stumbling block, I believe is the warning that various Eliot readers have given me over the years: "she's hard to get into." When the size of her books are coupled with the supposed dryness of her prose I can't help put think that reading Eliot is a lot of effort for very little result.  

Aldous Huxley: I own two copies of Brave New World and I have yet to read either of them.  I'm not much of a fantasy/ science fiction reader these days and dystopian themes don't appeal to me in the same way they did when I was younger.  Huxley's reputation for being a druggy hasn't helped either; if I am going to venture out of my comfort zone, I would like to do so with an author that is sober enough to drive the proverbial bus.  

Margaret Atwood: Full disclosure: I read about 20% of The Handmaid's Tale and wasn't taken by it.  Again, I am not a fan of dystopian themes, particularly ones related to the subjugation of women.  When you are a person with a functioning uterus living in the United States, regressive restrictions on your reproductive rights are less of a clever plot point and more of an actual reality.  Who needs science fiction when you have the Dakotas? Amiright?!

Jonathan Franzen: I've read all of Franzen's published non-fiction; I rate Franzen highly as an essayist.  However, I have never been able to get through more than fifty pages in any of his novels.  In some way, Franzen's public persona has something to do with this.  Franzen's pedantic curmudgeonliness is endearing in essay format; he's like your high strung uncle that you mess with at family gatherings because it's hilarious when he loses his shit.  In a novel format, however, this personality quirk doesn't work for me-- think Tolstoy as written by Dwight Schrute.  

So, who should I start with on this list?  What should I read first?  Let me know on Twitter @thelexicondev . 

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