Monday, August 04, 2008

"The Office" (workstation series) 106 (Dog Days reading edition)

I’m not much of a fan of fiction, when there is so much history, anthropology, biography, folklore, poetry, and so on to read, but I’m still a sucker for Pickwick Papers, Huck Finn, The Sun Also Rises, anything by the great Ross Thomas, All the King’s Men, Orwell, Flann O’Brien, Robert Stone’s Dog Soldiers, Steinbeck, Faulkner, Vonnegut, Ulysses & the Wake, the “Silver John” stories of Manley Wade Wellman, Conrad, Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill, Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion, Cervantes, Melville, Hardy’s The Woodlanders, Sayers’s Busman’s Honeymoon, Kenneth Grahame, Le Carré, Eco’s Name of the Rose, the Tale of Genji, Dashiell Hammett, Kerouac (especially Dharma Bums), anything by Beckett or Tom Stoppard, Fraser’s “Flashman” series and The General Danced at Dawn, and Robertson Davies (especially the Deptford Trilogy).

In light of that last, have been reading a biography of Davies, by Judith Grant. Not a great book—can’t decide (probably didn’t consider) whether to be a personal history or a literary analysis, and the analysis part is pretty lame. But I love Davies’s writing so much—and the book was 3 bucks used—that I’ve soldiered through. And have been rewarded with at least a couple of great quotes:

From 1945:

I suspect that the talk about the Common Man is popular cant; in order to get anywhere or be anything a man must still possess some qualities above the ordinary. But talk about the Common Man gives the yahoo element in the population a mighty conceit of itself, which may or may not be a good thing for democracy, which, by the way, was the result of some uncommon thinking by some very uncommon men.

From 1964:

Through C. G. J[ung]’s ever-thickening veils of thought and fantasy I discern something that gives great richness to my life, and helps me to behave rather more decently toward other people than my unaided inspiration can achieve. And that is important to me: the world is so full of self-seekers, crooks and sons of bitches that I am very keen to be a decent man—not a Holy Joe, or a do-gooder, but a man who does not gag every time he looks into a mirror.
As a credo for living a self-examined life, I'll buy that.
Now playing: Brass Monkey - Da Flooer O Taft - The Lass O Patie's Mill
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