What is A/S Reading? – No. 7
You know when it’s raining all week so you call in sick because you want to finish a book but know it’ll get destroyed in the rain on the way to the subway? Yeah. This is What is A/S Reading?
Fiction Editor John M. Cusick, foregoing all indications of literacy, is listening to the audio book of Time Quake by Kurt Vonnegut, read by Lawrence Pressman:
Time Quake is about a book, also called Time Quake, the events of which are described in tangents to a long, rambling speech about the atom bomb, clam bakes, and cancer.
Managing editor Laura McMillan just finished World Without End by Ken Follet:
Follet is better known for Cold War-era thrillers, but in this book (a sort of 200-years-later sequel to his 1989 The Pillars of the Earth), all the intrigue takes place against the backdrop of a cathedral town in 14th-century England. There’s a compelling plot and cast of characters, but he lavishes most of his attention on historical detail: development of new architectural technologies and tastes; the emergence of economic alternatives to serfdom; war in France; the beginnings of understanding contagious disease; and cloisters positively pulsating with gay sex. I hope Follet actually researched as meticulously as it seems, or I’m going to make a right fool of myself in my next conversation with a medieval historian.
Managing Editor Adam Read-Brown is about a third of the way through Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace:
Consider the Lobster is a collection of essays on everything from the AVN awards to John McCain’s 2000 presidential bid. I am currently in the middle of a piece on language and grammar, and completely geeking out. And wishing that I had a tenth of the brainpower that Wallace had. You can see the gears of his mind turning on the page. His, at times, frenetic use of footnotes and endless qualifications of nearly every other statement that he makes brings to mind looking at a fractal — zooming in closer and closer, but always seeing more and more complexity and nuance. And it’s hilarious.
Poetry Editor Evan Simko-Bednarski is reading The Land Where the Blues Began by Alan Lomax:
Anyone who’s heard a rattling acoustic twelve-bar blues through the speakers of a HiFi has Alan Lomax to thank. The Smithsonian anthropologist of the forties and fifties made it his mission to record the gospel singers, guitar players, chain gangs, bluesmen and preachers of the American south, at a time when what he considered among the highest forms of American art was derided by the white establishment as juke-joint “race music.” The Land Where the Blues Began demonstrates that Lomax is also a skilled writer, as he tells the story, decades later, of his trips south as part of a mixed-race recording team for the Library of Congress. The conversations he has with now-legendary musicians are reason enough to pick up this book, but the real story comes in the form of the enormous resistance Lomax and his team faced, from having to get written permission from white folk to drive on county roads, to almost being thrown in jail for referring to a black man with the title “Mister.” An amazing look at a dark time in American history, told from a unique perspective, rife with a rhythm and language evocative of the blues it seeks to convey.