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.