Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Though recent posts would suggest otherwise, I have been reading. Unfortunately for you all, I'm reading Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy, which is 1350 pages long. Even for me that's a lot. And I'm trying not to let myself be distracted by other reads, because then I'd never finish this one, and I am enjoying it quite a bit. It's not quite as bad as a Russian novel, in that most of the characters don't have nicknames, but there are just as many of them and they're all somehow related.

However, I just remembered that I never posted about Middlemarch, which I whizzed through last earlier this month and thoroughly enjoyed. I'd read it before, of course, and immediately listed it as one of my favorites, but had forgotten just how good it is. George Eliot is brilliant! I don't quite know how to describe it, since "a look at life in an English village" could sound pretty boring, but Eliot's writing makes the reader a part of that life. Like an ear-to-the-keyhole gossip, one can't wait to discover how Dorothea will respond to her late husband's nasty will, or if Rosamond Vincey will succeed in capturing Dr. Lydgate's heart. And more than that, which characters will rise above their circumstances and become heroes, and which will hide their heads in shame at their own actions.

I read it like I do mysteries, or fantasy novels, with complete abandon and absorption, which was why I had to shake my head over the comment of a woman at work. I'd always thought of her as being fairly intelligent and knowledgeable, but when she noticed the book sitting on the table next to me, she said, as if carefully sounding it out, "Middle--march?" If, as I assumed from that tone, she had never heard of the book, she judged it by the cover (Penguin Classics) and the thickness when she then asked, "For fun or for class?" (By which I assume she meant school, not a desire for sophistication.) When I answered, "For fun," she looked very impressed and said, "Oh, wow!"

Don't people read?!?

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