February 2, 2008 by Tracey S. Rosenberg
January reading: seven books. The most interesting:
Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight. One of those books that makes you understand the whole concept of ‘gaps and silences in the text’ – which sounds like litcrit wank, but I’ve read this twice now and still don’t twig one of the significant events, because I’m not paying close enough attention. Is Sasha a survivor or just a big whiner? Not sure. But I like Rhys’ ability to run an internal monologue alongside the spoken word, showing how frequently we say things far from what we really think.
Alexandra Robbins, Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities. Unsurprisingly, Robbins is persona non grata among the Greeks, having participated in sorority events for a year and written a fly-on-the-wall account. (Robbins rarely includes herself in the first-person accounts, so there’s a definite documentary quality.) While I certainly enjoyed this book – passed on to me from Plattie, who described it as a ‘good trashy read’ – I preferred the more analytical segments. Frankly, I started getting confused about the four sorority sisters (is she the one with the non-Greek boyfriend, or the one who doesn’t really like the sorority system?). The descriptions of rampant eating disorders still make me wince.
L. Sprague de Camp, Lovecraft: A Biography. Simultaneously explains why the creator of Elder Gods was such a freak, and shows that he wasn’t quite as bizarre as you might have guessed. So much wasted potential, including refusing even to send novels to publishers when he had them and they wanted them! But he did travel extensively outside of Rhode Island, which I would never have guessed. de Camp’s narration goes well beyond ‘opinionated’ and at times he starts lecturing the reader, the absent Lovecraft, or both, on topics ranging from racial attitudes to publishing. I don’t think this book will be of much interest to anyone except serious fans, but it was amusing as a period piece.