I got a spam comment here today that made me laugh:
Hey, you used to write great, but the last several posts have been kinda boring… I miss your tremendous writings. Past several posts are just a little out of track! come on!
Usually the spammers use honey rather than vinegar in their attempts to get us to click through and buy a little of what they are selling; this crew probably thinks that if they rile us up, we’ll come after them–and then they’ll have us! But it also made me laugh because it’s a little close to the mark: posting has been slow around here, though I do hope that what has gone up is not terribly “out of track.” It’s not that I’m not reading. I finished two Spenser novels over the weekend, for instance, part of my look back at the earlier ones in the series. Mortal Stakes seems to me particularly good, because it sets up and then challenges the moral terms on which Spenser pursues his code (which, as he notes, does not work in this instance). Looking for Rachel Wallace is interesting in different ways: again, it features Spenser coming up against some of his limitations, but in this case they are ideological more than ethical: Rachel Wallace is a “radical” feminist Spenser is hired to, but fails to, protect, an while he has to make up for his initial insistence on overriding her decisions in service of his chivalric standards (which leads her to fire him, leaving her to be kidnapped), she also has to confront her own inability to defend herself. Both are zippy reading and good, stylish examples of their kind. But I chose them to read because they fit well into the interstices of my other weekend projects, and so writing them up in detail was beside the point.
The other books I’m reading will almost certainly get their own proper posts, but I have to finish them first! One is Our Mutual Friend, which I am rereading after a gap of more than 20 years. It’s great. It’s also long! And I’ve been interrupting it with other things, including Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise, which I am puttering along at times when concentrating on Dickens is not realistic. The Rest is Noise is fascinating, but I can’t altogether get past the frustration of its not being a hypertext edition with music samples. (There’s a companion blog, but coordinating reading with being online and listening has not proved practicable.) Reading about music without listening to it is like reading about food without eating any — or substitute your choice of sensory activities that are best experienced directly! Still, it’s making me curious about music I never wanted to listen to before, and it’s lucid, lively, and full of great anecdotes. Finally, Vera Brittain’s The Dark Tide just arrived via “document delivery” (in my day, we called it “interlibrary loan”) and the lending library has given me only until September 7th, so I thought I’d best get right to that. No point imagining a seminar for 2012-13 on the Somerville novelists if I haven’t actually tested the charm of the idea against the reality of their novels, after all, and South Riding is not a very big sample.
So. I’ll have more tremendous writings up again soon, I promise.