Monday, October 3, 2016

October Update


Hello everyone,

As you may have noticed, it’s been a bit quiet around here lately. Some personal circumstances have contributed to this long hiatus and may prolong it for some time to come. I write today to affirm that seraillon will go on. I’ve sorely missed the blog and the wonderful community of literary bloggers (you’ve all been so prolific these past few months that I may never catch up…).

I am still reading and will continue to update the “Books Read” page. In fact, I’ll take this opportunity to give two quick thumbs up to two very different works I’ve just finished, both of them accidental finds completely off my radar when I lucked into them, one at a book sale, the other sent me as a gift.

The first, Scarlet Sails, by early 20th century Russian writer Alexander Grin (or Green in the English translation by Thomas P. Whitney), is apparently adored in Russia by children and adults alike, a fairy tale/fable set in a mythical country given the nickname “Grinlandia” by Grin’s fans. I too adored the book, especially its insistence, despite ample romantic elements, on dismissing superstition and affirming the role of human agency in creating magic, sensitively depicting those who feel compelled to create and to cherish their own imaginations.

The second is Serbo-Croatian writer Aleksander Tišma’s The Use of Man, a thematically sobering novel that still manages to burn with life and resilience in tracing the experience of several citizens of Novi Sad during WWII and the Holocaust. Using an unusual and recursive narrative style, Tišma gives us a series of discrete glimpses of his chief characters such that their stories unveil themselves gradually, almost matter-of-factly, drawing us into their remarkable and sometimes harrowing stories. I can say without hyperbole that I found Tišma’s novel as powerful as anything I’ve read about this period, a classic worthy of occupying the same shelf space as works by Primo Levi, Vassily Grossman, Elie Wiesel and Anne Frank.

As for the group read of Arnold Bennett’s The Old Wives’ Tale that I promised in July, I do expect to return to it. I read and greatly admired the book, and would love to get a discussion going about it when the circumstances are more favorable.

Thank you as always for reading, and see you all when the clouds clear a bit.


Scott



8 comments:

  1. It's good to see the return of posts here, Scott. I'm glad to hear that you're still around, albeit somewhat preoccupied with other things in life - we all have to take a break every now and again. Wishing you all the best. Jacqui

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  2. I am glad to see you posting Scott. I also glad to hear that you are still reading. Life can get so busy and challenging and there is not always time for blogging.

    I hope that everything is otherwise well. I look forward to the time that you return with regular posts.

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  3. Thank you for the assurance of your continuing (online) presence, Scott.

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  4. Real life tends to intervene, we all know that. I am really surprised, pleasantly of course, that Grin is known outside the Russian-language reading circles. The phrase "scarlet sails" has become an idiom in Russian, meaning the fulfillment of a romantic dream.

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  5. So enthused was I upon hearing about the Russian book, I proceeded to buy it immediately. So glad you're not "retiring" the blog.

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  6. So glad to hear from you! Sorry for whatever's troubling you, but so glad to hear you plan to be back online before too long.

    I started the Tsima when it was first reissued a couple of years ago. Agreed, its narrative structure is really compelling. I've got to get back to it. I think I put it aside because I was 2/3 done and was going on a trip and didn't want to take it with me... and then somehow I just never got back to it.

    Looking forward to starting it over again--and to hearing from you here when you're able.

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  7. I hope you are well. Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you, Scott.

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