Tuesday, June 24, 2003
I have, despite all appearances here, actually read a book or two since February--though I have been reading a disgraceful number of magazines as well. I think we have exceeded our subscription threshold, and we need to start putting them into rotation. We're currently getting The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Harpers, Vanity Fair, Brick, The Atlantic, Book and the New York Observer. Throw in the Times more Sundays than not and I begin to see why I've got three or four started-and-waiting books sitting on the desk.

I did finish Far From the Madding Crowd.--4 stars
The opening chapters of this book surprised me some with a number of lovely, sharply observed moments--much more modern in their feel than Victorian. Then I bogged for a while in the set of conventions around people slowly getting trapped as a result of never having had an emotion in their lives (perhaps this had more resonance for them, but I find it both tired and unconvincing. But the playing out of the molasses trap, once sprung, was very moving. I was expecting more density of vocabulary from Hardy, given his poetry, and was a little surprised to find the too-long scenes of the yeomen gabbing in the pub. (this, again, perhaps more shocking in its own time, but now lacking real resonance.)

But, like The Red and the Black, the ending is suddenly modern and fresh, especially after the 300 pages of lulling. My patience may have been somewhat addled by the wave of magazines; I think I'll need another six months before grappling with another of the Vics--I did pull out Scott's The Heart of Midlothian, but it went back up on the shelf after the move.


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