28 June 2009

Recent reads.

Vile Bodies, Evelyn Waugh: irrestible after Bright Young People. My St. John's College text-in-a-vacuum background doesn't predispose me towards wanting to know whence fiction is derived, but it was pretty great to know how much of VB was excruciatingly accurate. Fascinating, too, that Waugh satirized his best friends in such sharp terms, and that it didn't by historical account cause any kind of break. The BYP, it seems, were perfectly capable of laughing at themselves.
The ending is downright bizarre, similar to the same shift in tone that comes at the end of A Handful of Dust--the former ends with a world war (prescient and inevitable), the latter with the more-or-less hero stranded in Africa, forced to read the works of Dickens out loud to a local potentate. Dust is weirder, but even before his conversion, Waugh had a very Catholic notion of downfall.

Right now, I'm reading (Re)Cycler by Lauren McLaughlin, a sequel to the great teen novel Cycler which I read and reviewed last October. In this one, Jill, Jack, and the body they share move to Brooklyn (lucky bastards). Complications ensue. It's not as good as the first book--the twin selves' horror at the casual sexuality they encounter (most notably a group of Williamsburg hipsters who swap girls like baseball cards--and boy is that a dated metaphor) is a bit forced. But both voices remain sympathetic and distinct. And I think I'm gonna move.

And I'm really meaning to start Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution (Alex Storozynski), about the Polish-born Revolutionary War hero I first learned about through Kate Beaton's brill webcomic. Mr. Show, if only you stopped being funny the dozenth time through, I could stop watching you at night when I should be reading...

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