October 17th, 2007

Interesting words

"To think sluggishly, to think without strict regard to the antecedents and consequences of thought, to accept unanalyzed concepts as premises of thinking, or to allow personal factors unconsciously to influence one's thinking, is to be intellectually irresponsible."
Hu Shih

Read me......or don't

I just finished The Gilded Cage by Troy Soos. It is an interesting book set in the New York City 1890's, and he takes good care to make it feel he did his research. He wrote a series of novels about the early years of baseball, too, starring a host of famous names like Grover Cleveland Alexander. (Oddly, his current book makes no mention of his highly successful baseball books.)

Anyway, all of his books suffer for me from one peculiar weakness, something that I can't even describe except from a subjective, experiential point of view. Even as I enjoy his books and have recommended them to others, I have never felt that his writing has the crucial "Read me" factor that is so important to a book. You know how you read books that you simply cannot put down, books that keep you awake on your pillow until it's way too late, but you just can't stick that book mark in and go to sleep? They are books that just won't let you go. I have several authors of that ilk, but Soos is not one of them. It is the opposite. His books are generally well written and interesting, especially historically, but they don't really care if you read them. They are easy to put down (and easy to pick up and put down again). There is never an internal drive to the last page.

It is so abstract a phenomenon that all I can do is remark upon it and let it lie. I can't define why his books lack that quality, only wish they had it. They are good enough without it to make me unhappy as I read and notice once again that "This book doesn't care if I read it fast or slow, whether I finish it or not."

Lordy, it happened again

Yesterday I was talking with a friend about old songs from childhood and mentioned "It's a sin to tell a lie." I used to listen to it on the old wind up Victrola in our basement on one of mom's old 78's from the forties. I then sang the song, which is unheard these days but deeply embedded in my mind.

Fifteen minutes or so ago I was driving home and had my new Vera Lynn cd in the car and the first song that came on was her beautiful version of "It's a sin to tell a lie."

I just sat down to read a few pages in my new book (Christine Falls) and within a couple of minutes on page eleven I come across these sentences:

"In the night porter's room beside the tall double doors of the main entrance a wireless set was quietly playing to itself. The Inkspots. Quirke hummed the tune to himself. IT'S A SIN TO TELL A LIE.."

Okay, okay! Now you tell me that something fishy is not going on in the universe!