Thursday, August 23, 2012
Stuck in the Middle With Me
I am in the middle of two things at the moment: a book and a list.
The book is Triburbia by Karl Taro Greenfeld. I reckon that if Jay Mcinerney ever decided to write one of the Tales of the City books by Amistad Maupin, this is what you would get. The chilled, artistic, hip neighbourhood of Tribeca is populated by faintly hopeless almost-failed artists and irritating pricks. When I was a popular music wannabe-academic snob, I was surrounded by faintly hopeless almost-failed artists and irritating pricks, so perhaps that is why these characters feel so lifelike to me.
Each chapter is narrated by a different character, and Taro Greenfeld is so good at giving each one a distinct voice that I initially thought it was a disparate collection of short stories. Although I am yet to finish the book, I am loving the way the plot is developing almost by stealth; tiny drips of clues from previous chapters are scattered through subsequent ones. The bigger picture is emerging inch by inch.
I have read some pleasant things in the last few weeks, but this is the first book in a while that I have been able to really sink my teeth into. The characters and the plot are, as the back cover says, "darkly funny". The social commentary is sharp and biting. The book is readable as hell and I can't wait to finish it.
The List I am compiling is for something these guys have scared/dared/cheered/willed me into doing. I am going to attempt at least fifty Classics in five years or less. Five years sounds like a long time, but ten classics a year sounds hard, especially since some of my (so far half baked) list are - like Anna Karenina - thicker than a body builder's torso.
I have realised that I love making lists about as much as I love reading, so when I am done with this one I might make a list of Lists I Should Compile. When I have finished my classics list I will be duly posting it here, and fulfilling all other requirements that membership of The Classics Club entails. These include (but are not limited to) drinking sherry from a stemmed glass while discussing pre-post-modern plot development styles, and pledging to use at least one of the following words once a day: scullery, ratafia, furbelow, bosky.