Sunday Salon: Week Four

Two great accomplishments this week: I learned that my dissertation had been accepted (and, by extension, that I will be graduating in about a month, fulfilling a lifelong dream of getting "Doctor" attached to the front of my name while acquiring absolutely no medical skills or knowledge) and I finished Joyce's Ulysses. It is really neck and neck as to which felt like the more epic feat.

So today, unlike the past few Sunday Salons, I will not be whinging about how much Ulysses reading I have on my plate. I will, however, be whinging about how much paper grading I have to do. (A lot.)

If I get some time amidst paper commenting, I hope to read a bit of Arlington Park, Rachel Cusk's (thus far beautifully written) tale of terribly unhappy mothers wending their way through suburban London lives. Perhaps I will also dip into the first volume of the Complete Peanuts. I have been reading about 25 pages a day all week, which seemed for a time to be the magic number which allowed me to perceive the wit in Schulz's strips rather than finding them cloying. About three quarters of the way through the volume, however, I am finding it decreasingly wry and increasingly cute, which is unsettling. For those of you who are regular readers of this complete compilation: does the quirkily (almost darkly) philosophical strain of the early strips return? Soon? Am I just experiencing Peanuts fatigue?

This week I had been reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, but in the aftermath of the Pulitzer win it was recalled by the library (alas), and now I must wait at least a couple of weeks before I can pick up the trail of the story again. Boo. Bright side: I can return with renewed vigor to my other reading projects, like Arlington Park, Paul Auster's The New York Trilogy (which I began almost a year ago, I think), and Dreaming in Cuban.

Happy reading, everyone!

18 Responses so far.

  1. As one Salon 'Dr' to another, congratulations. I really do know how much this will have cost you in time, energy and sheer determination. And thanks for reminding me about the Cusk. it was a book I meant to read when it came out and somehow it has slipped from my radar. I must put it on the library list.

  2. Jaimie says:

    Congratulations! What a marvelous accomplishment!
    I tried to find The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao but figure it will be at least another week or so. That's ok. It's not like I don't have anything to read!

  3. Congratulations on the news about your dissertation!

    I think I would be irritated, having to return a book to the library before I was finished reading it. At least you have plenty of other reading to catch up on.

    I hope you have a great week.

  4. Julie says:

    Congratulations on your dissertation! That is quite an accomplishment!

    I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on the New York Trilogy. Paul Auster is an interesting guy.

  5. Irish says:

    Congrats on having your dissertation accepted. =)

  6. Congratulations on the acceptance of your dissertation.

  7. Jodie says:

    Hello I write for a bookzine called Estella's Revenge (http://www.estellasrevenge.com) and I was hoping you might be able to help me pull together a feature for our 'Travel' issue. I'm popping around various international reading challenges and asking the organisers to tell me what are the best books they have encountered so far in their challenge experience. I would love it if you could let me know what some of your favourite challenge reads have been for the 'Year of Down Under' challenge have been and perhaps provide a short sentence about why you have enjoyed them so much.

    The goal of this investigation is to get 80 books from around the world into this feature and so go 'Around the World in 80 books' (kind of dorky I know but also kind of fun).

    If you'd like to participate please send me your choices at bakerjodie at googlemail dot com by 24th April. If you'd like it would be wonderful if you could ask those taking part in the challenge to help out as well.

  8. Gracie says:

    Congratulations! Huzzah! Way to go! You rock! Etc.
    I SO admire the (as *table talk* writes) time, energy, and sheer determination you have invested. In addition to the intelligence, of course.
    I had just ordered Oscar Wao; hope the award doesn't interfere. In the meantime, am loving The Queen's Gambit and struggling with Mudbound; enjoying Unaccustomed Earth and determined to finish The Assault on Reason. And speaking of determined: I WILL read Ulysses, but only as part of a course (on-line if necessary; in-class if at all possible) Anyway, congratulations again, Pour of Tor!

  9. Gracie says:

    Congratulations! Huzzah! Way to go! You rock! Etc.
    I SO admire the (as *table talk* writes) time, energy, and sheer determination you have invested. In addition to the intelligence, of course.
    I had just ordered Oscar Wao; hope the award doesn't interfere. In the meantime, am loving The Queen's Gambit and struggling with Mudbound; enjoying Unaccustomed Earth and determined to finish The Assault on Reason. And speaking of determined: I WILL read Ulysses, but only as part of a course (on-line if necessary; in-class if at all possible) Anyway, congratulations again, Pour of Tor!

  10. Melanie says:

    Hmm, a doctorate AND Ulysses. You are scaring me! Enjoy your non-Joyce reading - I've heard so many good things about 'Arlington Park' and about 'Oscar Wao' that they really should go onto The List, soon.

  11. Congrats on the dissertation! I know how much blood, sweat, and tears went into my master's thesis, I am in awe of those who continue on to a doctorate.

  12. Congrats on the dissertation! That is a hecka lot of work. Feel proud :)

  13. mee says:

    Hi, I'm having a personal reading challenge and thought some people may want to join too. So check out this if you feel like having another challenge :)

    10 out of 100 out of 1001 books challenge

  14. Table Talk - Thank you! Finishing did have a rather high cost, as you say; I am STILL exhausted a month later. As for the Cusk, I am finally turning my full attention to it this week in Sunday Salon, so hopefully I will have some further thoughts on it soon. I would love to hear what you think if you get to it in the near future.

    Jaimie - Thanks! I am in the same situation vis-a-vis Oscar Wao. Luckily it is extremely readable, so I think it will be easy to slip in and out of my reading list as the library grants me access to it.

    Literary Feline - Thank you! I was a bit irritated (although very conscious that my library lets me keep a huge number of books for a very long time), but I instantly recalled it myself (*blush*), and it came back to me just a few days later. I guess the other person only needed it for a day or so. Or was struck by my book-desperation.

  15. Julie - Thanks! I will let you know about the NY Trilogy as I make my way through it. I started reading it so long ago (more than a year, perhaps?) that I may have to start again completely. I started it in a wave of enthusiasm for Auster following a great experience with "Book of Shadows," and even though I was really enjoying it, it fell by the wayside in the madness of dissertation work.

    Irish and Beastmomma - Thank you so much! I am incredibly relieved. :)

    Jodie - Alas, in the hurlyburly of the final week of class I didn't get back to you before the deadline!! Boo to me. It sounds like a fascinating project.

  16. Gracie - Thanks! Your reading list sounds positively envy-inducing. When you get to "Ulysses," this is the one crucial piece of advice I have as a teacher and as a casual reader: read Blamires' "The Bloomsday Book" along side Joyce's novel. It is a very intelligent scholarly paraphrase which gives you a very helpful window into some of the philosophy of the novel, and does a great deal to clarify its manifold narrative ambiguities. Unlike "Cliff Notes" and its brethren, "The Bloomsday Book" is consistently recommended by Joyce scholars when they teach the book. (Or at least that has been my impression.)

    Melanie - Oh, "The List"! Mine is now so massive that it curls down around my feet, out my bedroom door, down the stair, out of the house, around the block, out of town, and into the Atlantic Ocean!

    Nyssaneala - Thanks! From what I gather, Master's Theses are just as grueling, only over a more compacted period of time. Luckily, I didn't have to do a Thesis as well as a dissertation (my master's was just granted when I completed my oral exams - phew!).

    Shereadsbooks - Thank you! For once in my life, I actually do. :)

    mee- This challenge seems right up my alley. You know how I love the 1001 lists. I will look and see whether I can squeeze it in among all the other challenges I am failing to complete. :)

  17. Andi says:

    Congratulations to you!!!! Your nearing the end of your PhD makes me sort of wish I'd gone on to mine. :(

  18. Thanks, Andi! Meanwhile, I am always envious and admiring of people who managed to escape the common academic "track" and do something else fulfilling and unusual with their life!

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