Tuesday, July 8, 2008

7 july 08, arthur's birthday

in honor of a friend's birthday i re-read the book that i planned to give him so that i could mark it up with my special marks. (he hasn't yet had the fortune to borrow a book i'd actually marked.) i enjoy reading marked-up books, so long as said marks are discreet. mine happen to be. (i realized i haven't entertained the thought that arthur might dislike marked-up books; but their being my marks, i do not expect him to be too miffed.)

anyway, as i said, my system is discreet:
1. checks: where i laugh
2. a single straight line: by a passage i'd like to revisit
3. two straight lines (parallel): by something particularly powerful
4. i write words i don't know at the top of the page, so that i can look them up later (i fill in the definition at the top of the page).

laughable loves by milan kundera registered (appropriately) a surfeit of checks; the parallel lines, too, were no laughing matter. only two words escaped me, and both begin with the letter S:

superannuated: retired because of age or infirmity; to old for use, work, service, or position; antiquated or obsolete. (i believe i once knew this word.)
slivovits: (slivovitz) a dry, usually colorless, slightly bitter plum brandy from E Europe.

my favorite story was "the golden apple of eternal desire", no question. i can see how it might become arthur's as well, in the way that he might see a bit of himself in the narrator. (not to mention the fact that i probably enjoy it more to see my beloved friend in it.) for instance, when the narrator's friend steals his book on Etruscan culture in order to flirt with a girl by way of dropping it into her bag, he fumes:

What sense was there in this. The book, which I'd been looking forward to for so long, suddenly found itself in a faraway place. When you came to think of it, it was quite annoying. But nonetheless a certain lunacy happily uplifted me on the wings it promptly provided.

for you see, the book-stealing was done for the benefit of the narrator, who isn't naturally inclined to see the instrumental value of sacrificing his dear book to get a date--he must be cajoled. its preciousness becomes a motif throughout the rest of the story, and during my read kept calling my mind back to a man who loves his books.


apparent upon this read and not my first was some blatant mysogyny in a couple of the stories. blame was appropriately assigned to the speaker character, rather than the author--but i do wonder how he could write so incisively such dubious remarks. but oh, they are good!

"Fortunately women have the miraculous ability to change the meaning of their actions after the event." (from "the hitchhiking game")


No comments: