Too Many Books In The Kitchen

I'm Michael Hingston, books columnist for the Edmonton Journal (new columns every other Friday).

My first novel, The Dilettantes, was just published by Freehand Books. Here's everything you might want to know about it.

Other topics under discussion: podcasts, strange sodas, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Moby-Dick.

Email me, if you like, at hingston [at] gmail [dot] com. I'm available for hire and I like free books.

WRITING

Favourites: 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013
What I Read: 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 (so far)

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Mark Abley (1)
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OTHER PIECES

"Comic Sans" (The Incongruous Quarterly)
"'No Fear' T-Shirts Based on Board Games" (McSweeney's)

"The Men in the Mirror"
"Moby-Dick; or, My Favourite Book"
"The Pop-Culture Annotated 'Lord's Prayer'"
"Tumblr Recommends"

The Best Shelf Defense Is a Good Shelf Offense: Pride and Prejudice

To cap off finishing the first letter of Shelf Defense, I bought one extra, essential book that I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten around to anytime soon. This was done totally 100% as part of a well thought-out plan, and not in any way because I’m still impulsively buying way more books than I should. Just so we’re clear. I’ll try and keep to this pattern as we go, time permitting (dear lord, time permitting…).

* * * * *

JANE AUSTEN, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1813)

THOUGHTS: What follows is strictly a practical, what-can-this-book-do-for-me-now kind of reaction. Obviously the book has historical merit. That’s why I sought it out, and that’s why I’m glad to have read it, no matter what. However: I could not figure this thing out. And it’s not that I’m a boy, and therefore unable to read at length about icky feelings (in fact I think Austen is uncommonly good at writing about them). It’s just that I can’t work up the energy to get invested in a world where the stakes are so obviously piddling and outdated—several variations on “But what will the neighbours think?!” I was glad to see Elizabeth call out Lady Catherine as an over-perfumed gasbag, and the father is fun, but mostly you feel suffocated by those starchy collars by proxy. And let’s not forget about Mister Darcy: Convincing Young Women To Pursue Emotional Bear Traps For 199 Years And Counting.

More interesting to me is Austen’s narration, whose free indirect style hops from one character to the next like static cling. That habit she has of suddenly paraphrasing extremely important dialogue (eg. Darcy’s response to Elizabeth at the book’s climax) is strange, too. Was this a common practice back then? I don’t recall coming across it before.

Posting Austen quotes last week won me a bunch of new followers; this will probably send them right back out the door. Don’t worry: I didn’t like Jane Eyre, or Mad Men, or Stoner, either. Chafing against obviously unjust social decorum is always going to be unbelievably boring to me. At this point it’s basically heroism- and romance-by-numbers. Far more interesting would be the person who happily goes along with said social decorum, and rationalizes it, and knows how to get the most out of it. So forget Cinderella; I’ll take Drizella’s story any day of the week.

KEEP OR SELL: Sell.

Feb 21, 2012
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