Saturday, May 15, 2010

After Many a Book

Day 95 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project, and it's possible that I should not try to do this for 365 days because 1) readership has declined and/or 2) commentship has declined (where is Mike Peterson?!), but mainly because 3) I might be going a little crazy:

I have started to notice what fictional characters are reading!! Of course Franny was reading The Way of the Pilgrim, and this was crucial to the plot of Franny and Zooey, and maybe part of the hermit-style madness of J.D. Salinger (I resemble that remark), but this is something else.

I noticed that Monica Geller was reading Practical Intuition in Love by Laura Day in an old episode of Friends, as my teenage kids have discovered this series. She had the big red-orange-with-a-rose hardcover, dark yellow lettering, but I have linked you to a handy paperback copy if you, too, want to have Monica's frequently-between-boyfriends love life and then end up with the boy next door.

And George, in A Single Man, is course reading After Many a Summer, by Aldous Huxley, a kind of Hollywood fantasy satire. In the film, he is reading an elegant hardcover, evidently the very first edition of 1939, before the title changed to After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, in the very next printing later that year. I can't even find a picture of that one, except at Wikipedia, which appears to have fewer stripes than the one in the film, but there are many copies out there, ranging from $21 to over $200, and many affordable copies in later hardback and softcover editions. Even the first American edition includes this addition to the title, a quotation from a Tennyson poem, so George must have brought his copy from London!

See, it can't be a good thing that I am this wrapped up in books and their editions, so that I am speculating on the lives of fictional characters, what they are reading, and why.

But George is reading a book about a man who is afraid of death and obsessed with youth, and it's a bitterly comic novel, showing the folly of it all. And he has read it closely, which is interesting to ponder, after having seen the film. Now I am going to have to read this book.

Believe me, I already checked Babbitt's for the pulp fiction cover.


Julie Kistler said...

You have to keep going with the blog. I read a whole book THAT I LOVED on the plane back from New York. It's called FLAPPER, by Joshua Zeitz. I love history, especially of the 20s, and this one is very good. F. Scott and Zelda! Coco Chanel! Lois Long! I bought it after going to the American Woman fashion exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum, which was FABULOUS.

I also picked up a bunch of plays at the Drama Bookshop, including the American version of God of Carnage.

Kathleen said...

Then you will like tomorrow's entry, all about what a playwright is reading! What he read in England and after he got home.

Kim said...

Yes, keep going with the blog. Lack of comments does not equal lack of readership!

SarahJane said...

That is interesting. There are so many books where the characters are also reading some famous or not so famous book. I have to say that it often annoys me, being such an obvious plant.

Kathleen said...

Kim & Julie, fear not. I'm just making fun of myself.

SarahJane, that sometimes annoys me, too, and I've wondered if it was a convention at some time, the way brand names/material objects are associated with "minimalism" in modern fiction.