First this blog degenerated into Nathan’s reading journal, and then no posts at all. I’m sorry. It’s all been happening at my other blog, because a lot of my thinking and attention has been tied up with faith and theology.
I started rereading Updike’s Rabbit at Rest, because it was once a favourite book, but I didn’t finish it and I can’t explain why. Then I didn’t finish Richard Ford’s Men and Women either, and I can’t explain that either.
I read two chapters of G.K. Chesterton’s St Francis of Assissi, but I didn’t like that at all. It’s something his tone – I get this in a number of books written in the first half of the twentieth century – that is so condescending, as if the reader wants to be lectured. He spends those chapters explaining what sort of biography he mustn’t write. It was written for the ‘layperson’ and I got the impression he wanted to give the layperson a good piece of his mind. I just wanted to know about St Francis, thanks. (And I don’t even like your detective stories.)
And now I picked up the Arabian Nights in this old companion volume that is just beautiful. If you flip it around, it’s got Aesop’s Fables on the other side. And the binding page is this sixties wallpaper style. The Arabian Nights are enchanting me. What sheer and beautiful craziness! A doctor lets his head get cut off and then talks back to the king after his head’s cut off to get his revenge. There’s fish which start talking when they get cooked and there’s all these interwoven repeating variations on themes, like the delay of death due to the telling of a story.
And Sinbad borrows from the Odyssey to tell the story of his escape from a Cyclops. I’m sure there’s an interesting story behind that.