Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Grandmothers by Doris Lessing

This book received mixed reviews, and, once again, I am glad I do not read full reviews until after I read a book. I am a big fan of Lessing -- Martha Quest is one of my favorite novels -- and Lessing is as good a story-teller as ever. Of course the con/di-vergence of class is always central to her stories.
Forget the reviews, read the first story, ("The Grandmothers"), and you will be hooked. This is a gentle story, with a surprising twist.
The second ("Victoria and the Staveneys") brings class consciousness to the fore. A wealthy family has two sons -- one a staid lawyer, the other dabbles in African music. The parents are involved in the theater, and are leftists in all respects. One day, their younger son discovers he fathered a daughter by a young black girl that he had met years earlier when both were pre-teens, then met again by accident when they were young adults. The family anguishes over how to handle the situation, but when they try and take the child away from the mother, "for proper schooling," their values and ideals clash.
The third story ("The Reason for It") is a wonderful allegory (for the US in the 21st century?) of an ancient civilization destroyed by stupidity.
The last story ("The Love Child") is of two young men, again from different social classes, who are drafted in the days before WWII. Her repetitive and monotonous prose describing a repetitive and monotonous voyage on a troop ship bound for India hits the target for the experience of the men on board.
Lessing's fiction is absorbing and difficult to put down. I read this in less than a day. Makes me want to go back and finish the "Children of Violence" series. There are five books in the series, and I have read the first three.
--Chiron, 2/13/06

Friday, August 04, 2006


Welcome! I am entirely new to blogging, so bear with me for a while. I have been a voracious reader since the second grade -- at least! I have a wide range of interests, but my major collecting interests include (in no particular order): Updike, Oates, Cheever, Brookner, Atwood, Kaye Gibbons, and James Joyce. My master's thesis was on Joyce. Also there are a lot of other writers I devour without actually collecting: the Brontes, Eliot, (some) Dickens, Salter, McEwan, Russo, Homer. I also collect Tudor period biographies and letters.