Thursday, December 03, 2009

On Dickensfest 2009, Best Books and more

Another year, another interesting and successful Dickensfest celebration hosted by Mutt. In case you haven't noticed (and judging by the number of visitors to this page, let alone people who actually read classics anymore, you haven't!!), this is the ninth annual installment in Mutt's ongoing effort to read through and reflect on the collected works of arguably the greatest of all English novelists, and even though I haven't really been playing along at home (much to my shame!), I have enjoyed the "annual non-scholarly essay" he cranks out about it each year. This year's installment, on the novel Hard Times, I thought was particularly interesting and insightful. He draws parallels between the careers of Dickens and Bruce Springsteen, which may sound far-fetched until you read Mutt's convincing arguments. Wasn't Dickens celebrated as the voice for the common man in Britain's industrial age?? Wasn't he always writing about working-class characters who yearn for something more? And what is Bruce primarily known for in terms of the content of his songs and his public persona?

Anyway, it's an interesting comparison, and one that I must say I never thought of. If you missed Mutt's reflections on Hard Times and "the ever-growing behemoth that is Dickensfest," catch it here. Add Hard Times to the growing list of Dickens novels that I hope to catch up with one of these days...

And speaking of Mutt, as usual he's got his list of the Top 10 Books of the Year up before I do... it's right below this post, and it's worth checking out. Mine is, as always, going to be quite a different list, but taken together I think I can say they will represent an eclectic, world-ranging mix of titles. I don't tend to rank mine, but Mutt always does... and his number one choice for this year may come as a surprise, since it comes from a relative newcomer when compared to most of the other writers he selects. It's a book I haven't read but it certainly sounds like an ambitious and original (if not somewhat prophetic!?!) novel.

Finally, this has got to be the literary quote of the week... regarding the auctioning of the great American novelist Cormac McCarthy's legendary 1963 Olivetti typewriter, which he used to type out all of the manuscripts for his books, a book dealer named Glenn Horowitz gushed:

“When I grasped that some of the most complex, almost otherworldly fiction of the postwar era was composed on such a simple, functional, frail-looking machine, it conferred a sort of talismanic quality to Cormac’s typewriter. It’s as if Mount Rushmore was carved with a Swiss Army knife.

Now that's some hyperbole ol' "Chuck D" would really appreciate!!

Stay tuned for Duke Altum's Best Books of 2009 list... coming real soon to these pages!


Mutt Ploughman said...

That is a hilarious quote.....the reading public is famished to see your upcoming Top 10 list.....stay tuned for the "Best of 2000s" list(s) as well.....

vidacavallaro said...
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