Monday, March 22, 2010

Dark Towers

Day 41 of the "What are you reading, and why?" series.

Today I put together two completely different kinds of writers, as one aspect of American literature these days is to have battered on any barrier between "high" and "low" culture. I know people still do categorize and label--there is "serious fiction" or "literary fiction," and there is "genre fiction," and these things are still organized in bookstores in various ways that keep them apart from each other. But college classrooms put things together, study everything, and have "elevated" certain kinds of writing that were dismissed before. The "comic book" is now the "graphic novel"--or "Graphic Illustration" in Babbitt's--and people are respecting each other's art in new ways that are less hierarchical than when I was growing up.

So I'll tell you that Kim has been reading The Gunslinger, the first in the Dark Tower series by Stephen King, and that Charlie is embarking on Point Omega, the new novel just out in hardcover from Don DeLillo. (Earlier in this blog we heard a bit about Falling Man, a DeLillo novel about the man falling from the dark towers of 9/11..., and the cover pictured here is from Libra, different towers altogether in DeLillo's book about the Kennedy assassination.)

A guy who runs a business down the street came in for another stack of the books he likes to read and was saying the last book in the Dark Tower series was a huge disappointment, and made him feel he had wasted his time reading everything building up to it. But the series was recommended to Kim by Bob, who said the last book made the whole reading adventure worth it, and to definitely start at the beginning! The link above is to a revised edition of The Gunslinger, as King was writing other works simultaneously (the way we read books simultaneously, or the way painters works on numerous paintings simultaneously, etc.) and realized by the end that the beginning needed some adjustment. So Kim might want to figure out which edition she has, and perhaps that's why the guy from down the street was so disappointed. He read the original work, and things didn't add up?!

I'm pretty sure the only thing I've read by Stephen King is On Writing, and, to my mind, he was right on about writing.

Don DeLillo is a writer I've not yet read. I have read excerpts and essays by him, but not a whole novel. I almost took home White Noise the other day, but instead got The Wishbones by Tom Perotta. I'm pretty sure this is "dick lit."

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