Reading would naturally be the next topic since last month’s article was on writing. I will ask people I’m familiar with what they are reading. Meeting people with literary interests in a world of social media is rarer than it would have been in earlier computer technology.
Both my son and Keri’s nephew get the question, and their consistent answer is that they spend their time with video games and rarely read. Video games mean nothing to me but other people get full of emotional attachments. Otherwise, my son reads Tibetan Yogi Lobsang Rampa and our nephew reads Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novel series. They have been at these projects a long time given the video game habit. The nephew has successfully read Stephen King and my son picked up Aldous Huxley. I have given all the books to them so they know I’ll question them later. I have even given John Steinbeck to our editor, Paula.
There have been surprising answers to the question from other readers. I asked a co-worker what had been the best book he had read so far this year. He always has a book with him so I know that I can get a real answer from him. Stephen King’s new novel The Outsider was named and I did not know of it before spotting him reading it. He went on to say that King is not given respect because of his popularity. I’ve heard that opinion before and can agree.
I was also given a sizable list of science-fiction and related genre writers when William Somerset Maugham pops up. W. Somerset Maugham is an English writer I have intended to read for some time. I read classic D.H. Lawrence last year and really enjoyed him and his views of England. Maugham was the English master of tortured romance for the first third of the twentieth century. His works successfully translated to the screen in silent era for Joan Crawford (Sadie Thompson), golden era of Hollywood for Bette Davis (Of Human Bondage) and more recently for Naomi Watts (The Painter Veil).
On the job, a certain elevator used to transport workers and materials has a marker pad that will have a line stating “National Day of…” at the top. This can usually be food-related like National Pineapple Day. This last week is noted that was National Read a Book Day. Since I had actually finished reading a book the night before I asked the guy I was riding the elevator with what book he had last read. He responded that it was too long ago to recall. I had finished reading Margaret MacMillan’s Paris 1919 about the work of developing the Treaty of Versailles. The book was seemingly written in reaction to the Balkan Wars in the 1990s and has observations of problems leading to war in the Middle East.
Recently, I have been reading Gore Vidal’s Narratives of Empire, in which I appreciate how Vidal finds that the pursuit of Empire is hazardous to the country of the United States of America. Not a popular view when he was alive. D.H. Lawrence lamented on war, industry and coal-mining’s damage to English youth especially in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, his last and most famous novel. What would he think of tar sands and oil pipelines through the mountains?
Tell me, what are you reading?
Reinhardt lives in Boyle Street with his wife, Keri Breckenridge.