Bleak House Readalong


Even though I don’t think I can possibly read 16 chapters in 4 days, I will, at least, make some headway and I’ve wanted to read it for a long time.   I didn’t get past the fog the last time.   I think I used this logic with Ulysses which is now 1/3 done and sitting their glaring at me with its one eye.   But Bleak House can’t see me through the fog.   

Bout of Books Wednesday and Thursday

I’ve gotten behind.   Now I have to try to remember what I did two days ago.   Hmmm.


Everybody Was So Young – 11 pages

The Case is Closed – 13 pages

Ulysses – 4 pages

No books have been finished and at this rate they’re not going to be!


The Case is Closed – 72 pages

I decided to focus on the easy one.   I might actually finish one that way.  Should have more time to read the next couple days.  But will I?   Maybe I need more snacks.

Bout of Books Tuesday

Better in some ways.   Started Eugene Onegin and got about 30 pages done.   It is pretty lively and amusing, but then that’s what I thought about Ulysses at first.  Now I’m trying to slog through the Cyclops section with a nameless narrator and miles of mock epic prose some of which is amusing, but it just goes on too long.   Can’t imagine anyone reading 150 pages of this in a day and actually taking any of it in.

So then I made the mistake of opening Patricia Wentworth’s The Case is Closed.   36 pages of that done and finally 11 pages of Everybody.   Why is it so much easier to read mysteries than non-fiction?  Even though the non-fiction is well-written and interesting?   So that’s about 77 pages, but only some of which should have been read.

And now there’s a Bleak House readalong in February to tempt me.  990 pages!   Only 28 days in February.  Still, I’ve wanted to read it a long time.  That will probably set the whole 52 books thing back more than a bit.


Bout of Books Monday Progress (or not)

Remembered I need to add to my goals starting on Eugene Onegin which I bought in the Falen translation on Kindle.  So what happened Monday?   Not a lot of reading.   23 pages of Everybody Was So Young – a biography of Sara and Gerald Murphy, Jazz Age muses to Hemingway, Fitzgerald and other.   A few pages of My Name is Red which is a leftover from last year.   Same with Ulysses, which I’m reading at a glacial pace, but haven’t stopped completely yet.

Instead of reading I watched 13 Rue Madeleine a movie of spies in WWII starring Jimmy Cagney.  Sadly I was deeply irritated by it.   Cagney stars as an O.S.S. officer training a batch of new recruits, one of whom he’s informed is a Nazi spy.   (Serious spoilers ahead.   Stop reading now if you want to see this without knowing what happens.)   We follow 3 youngish trainees, O’Connell, Lassiter and a French chick played by Annabella.  O’Connell and Lassiter become great friends playing much backgammon together with Lassiter losing to the tune of 14 million dollars, as they joke.  Cagney figures out O’Connell is the Nazi because when they almost get caught on their final training mission taking photos, O’Connell slugs his friend instead of the guard as an American would supposedly do.   In other words, he’s too smart to be an American.   We Americans are scrappy, true and honest with all kinds of moral high ground, but we’re dumb and we like it that way.  And according to this movie, that’s the way it is throughout.   Cagney is right, O’Connell is really Kuncel, one of the best and brightest Nazi spies.  Cagney stupidly entrusts Lassiter with this revelation and Lassiter is completely incapable of acting like they’re still friends so as they’re being parachuted into their mission O’Connell/Kuncel takes care of him and lights out for the territories with the knowledge of what all the remaining trainees look like.   Intrepid Annabella is left alone at this point and carries on with her mission.   She’s fairly bright, but that’s okay she’s French.  Europeans can be smart, just not us.   Cagney decides no one but he can complete this mission.  Annabella, though intrepid, is really only a telegraph girl.     So, Cagney parachutes into France and blunders into town pretending to represent the Vichy government demanding to see Duclois the man who designed the depot for the V-2 rockets which will be used against the allies.  He is instantly picked up by the Resistance and set to digging his own grave, when he manages to get a secret message read out from London thus saving his life to cause more trouble.   He convinces the Resistance men that this is their moment – they must kidnap Duclois who is living/being held in a hotel full of Nazis.   Luckily, most of them are asleep upstairs though it’s broad daylight.   For some reason only Cagney and the French mayor attack this hotel.   They take out two Nazis on the ground floor then locate their man on the second floor.   Absolutely no intelligence being gathered beforehand, it was very convenient their target was on the second floor and most of the guards on the third.  They get their man and run away, but the Nazis are on their tail including Kuncel.   They see the plane landing and head off to stop it, but Cagney who I would’ve thought would have been getting on that plane as well, drives into them and stops them from destroying the mission, but gets taken alive to go and be tortured.   Intrepid Annabella is found and shot, but not before she gets word through of Cagney’s capture.   Plucky Cagney puts up with horrible torture and even gets to slug Kuncel once before the Americans decide to bomb the building to prevent Cagney from spilling all.   Cagney knows what they’re doing and laughs at the end.    Good old American pluck and bombs beats Nazi brains every time.   Of course, everyone dies.   Not entirely surprising as except for Cagney it was their first mission.   Seems a bit much to ask, but I guess they were short of actual experienced agents who’d probably all died horribly on earlier missions.   I trust there are movies out there with actually intelligent intelligence agents.  I hope to find one of those.

Bout of Books 9.0

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 6th and runs through Sunday, January 12th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 9.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

Just in the nick of time, eh?  38 minutes or so to go until the Bout of Books begins.   

I can read a bit at lunch, but mostly I read in the evening before bed.  I hope to finish two books this week.  Everybody was so Young and…   something else.   

Maigret and the Man in the Boulevard

First book of the year was an author I’ve meant to read for a long time – Georges Simenon was one of those madly prolific writers so I thought if I like him, I’m set for a while, but while I enjoyed the book for the most part, I’m not rushing to start the next.  I don’t mind police procedurals, but I do think the suspect ought to be introduced before the last chapter as rather an afterthought.   This is not a mystery you can guess.  In fact, the real mystery is how the victim lived and that part is interesting.   It almost qualifies as a mystery in which murder is not the main crime, but not quite.   

This books counts for 2013 European Reading Challenge as Simenon was Belgian and the book is set in France.

It also counts for Golden Mystery Bingo, but I don’t know which slot to pick yet.

It is also the first of 52

Happy New Year!

I was going to do one of those grand summing up type posts yesterday, but then I was longer at work than I expected and I didn’t finish a book, let alone all of them.   I’m blaming James Joyce for this.   Now it’s a bright shiny new year full of challenges, with a couple hanging on from last year.    Ulysses being the main one.   I’m about a third of the way.   So far almost keeping up with Roof Beam Reader though I seem to be slowing down.

One thing that surprised me in Ulysses is how much Shakespeare there is, particularly Hamlet.   In fact, one of the dullest passages to me was Stephen Dedalus and co. discussing Hamlet and Will.   This is very strange – that it was dull, I mean – because I’m quite into ol’ Will and particularly Hamlet and yet all I wanted was for him to get back to Bloom.    Bloom who does nothing but extremely pedestrian things like eat liver and buy soap.   Why is he so compelling?   Is it his relationship with his wife?   Is it his quest to put this ad in the paper?   Is it that you get inside his head?    I’m up to the sirens section and quite enjoying the bits in the bar despite not enough Leopold.  It’s strange to have this ebb and flow of understanding.   Some sections are quite clear.   Easy to follow though I know I’m missing tons of stuff.    And I’m reading the annotated version half the time so it will say things like Bloom doesn’t want to be seen by Blazes Boylan and I’m damned if I can figure out how they know it’s Boylan he doesn’t want to be seen by.

But then he manages to draw an amazing picture with very little in the way of description.   I’ve got a whole picture of the bar in the Ormond Hotel and Miss Douce and Miss Kennedy and Pat the waiter, waiting, in my head and probably it’s nothing like the picture anyone else has of it, but there it is all filled in without paragraphs of description.   And where did I leave off?  I read a lot of it twice that way.   Can’t hurt.   But it’s good to know a bit of Hamlet along with knowing a bit of the Odyssey and the fact I saw Parnell on Masterpiece Theater yonks ago is also beneficial.    The singing.   I read this.  Blazes should have walked to Molly’s, it’s taking forever to drive.   Why does Bloom know about this?   The letter – past that.  No, not really past it.   Right there where I left off.

Anyhoo, time to read many books.   52 at least.   Supposedly.   We shall see. Not off to a good start.   14 hours in and I haven’t read word one.