My fling with short novels and novellas continues, this past week with the epistolary classic, 84, Charing Cross Road and its diary sequel, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street (both by Helene Hanff.) When 84, Charring Cross Road first appeared on my required reading list in high school, I avoided it because I though it was a collection of maudlin love letters. When I did finally get around to reading it as a young adult, I was pleasantly surprised that they weren’t those sort of love letters and I’ve held the book in fond memory ever since. For the uninitiated, 84, Charing Cross Road is a collection of letters between Helene Hanff and the booksellers at Marks & Cross in London. The letters span approximately twenty years, from Post-War London and its hardships through to the circus that was the 1960s. In going back to 84, Charing Cross Road this time, however, it didn’t hold up as well for me, mainly because I didn’t like Ms Hanff this time around. I was dismayed at her sarcastic sense of humor and wondered what it was in her writings that made her so appealing to her foreign correspondents-cum-pen pals. I went on to read The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street (the recent acquisition of which was the reason for my re-reading 84, Charing Cross Road), which is a diary of Ms Hanff’s trip to London. It was okay, even if Ms Hanff seemed a bit obsessed with her wardrobe. While I loved neither of the books, I liked them together, a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I was disappointed to go online and find very few pictures or other visuals in regards to 84, Charing Cross Road/The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. I would have loved to have seem Ms Hanff’s library, the bookstore when it was still open, the staff’s personal pictures which are often referred to - but never reproduced in the books.
I finished off last week’s reading, not with a short novel, but with the 308-page Paul Auster novel, Invisible. There is no denying that Paul Auster is a very good writer: From the first page I was hooked on the story; but by the story’s end, I was still on the hook. I felt stupid for not getting it and wondered at the point of the whole thing. The story is about a young student who, with another man, is mugged. Something happens which then generates approximately forty years of male angst. Kinda reminds me of Ian McEwan in that way :-/
I know you never thought I’d say it; but I’ve started Alias Grace (by Margaret Atwood!) I should be finished by next Tuesday and then we shall see what we shall see :-)
I’ve started We’re Alive, Season 1 (by Kc Wayland; performed by a full cast) even while in the midst of The Arthur Miller Collection (by Arthur Miller; performed by various full casts.) I’ll be posting reviews of a couple of the Arthur Miller plays this week, The Man Who Had All the Luck and All My Sons. I hope to be able to post more reviews of the individual plays; but I’ll have to see how I can juggle the schedule with Zombie Awareness Month and SYNC looming on the horizon :-)