What I Happen to Be Reading At the Moment

"A thirteen-year-old is a kaleidoscope of different personalities, if not in most ways a mere figment of her own imagination. At that age, what and who you are depends largely on what book you happen to be reading at the moment.”

 

While not 13 anymore, the desire to read almost anything and everything in order to read for fun and for experience is still around. I'm currently working on my PhD in a physical science, but I love to read and books are one of my non-science hobbies.

The Guermantes Way (In Search of Lost Time, #3) - Marcel Proust, C.K. Scott Moncrieff, Terence Kilmartin, D.J. Enright The Guermantes Way feels like a turning point in In Search of Lost Time for me. By the end of Within the Budding Grove I was thoroughly frustrated with our narrator, wanting him to grow up already or have some deeper insight about the loves of his life than his admiring their beauty (an exaggeration, I know, but after several hundred pages it felt like the same repeated trope). From other GoodReaders and Proustians, I'd gathered that this third volume of In Search of Lost Time contains some substantial plot. I was ready to see what Proust would come up with in terms of this element of fiction, since the first two volumes were relatively plot light. And it impressed. The Guermantes Way without too many spoilers, is about the social world of Paris, specifically the circle of the Guermantes, the other wealthy family that the narrator knows from Combray. From our narrator's experience with reactions to the Dreyfuss affair (almost like he is discovering popular politics for the first time and notes how everyone has an opinion on the issue, especially the socialites), the final illness of his grandmother (my favorite and especially poignant part of the work. Proust can be very spot on within the complex and occasionally opaque writing, and the recounting of the narrator and family's reactions to the illness and death are incredibly true on a great-works-of-literature-true level) as well as male friendships, attempted liaisons, and of course girls. While our narrator has matured some, he's still in pursuit of his current (and sometimes concurrent) lady loves and his experiences within the upper class of Paris makes him both realize the "fakeness" of some while being still perplexed and almost impressed by the artful and manipulative people around him. Moreover, the ending is a delightful and surprising piece of writing. It is almost a modern day cliffhanger, where a character announces his or her impending death and another character treats it in a typical fashion: ignoring it, because ignoring things work in his or her life already very well. Saying any more is giving way too much away, but for the struggling Proustian it is definitely worth sticking out The Guermantes Way.Might I be a struggling Proustian right about now? Maybe. Do I sometimes need the encouragement of the Proust 2013 group to keep through? For sure. Proust is any large dose for me is something I need to read in a group, both for keeping my willpower up as well as confirming some of the more surprising or obtuse plot points. At just over half way through, with what I think are some of the more interesting in terms of plot parts of In Search of Lost Time to come, I am encouraged intimately by the narrator continuing to surprise me with insight and humanity that I'd previously written off for this often frustrating male character, who may or may not be Proust himself.

Currently reading

Native Son
Richard Wright
The Great Glass Sea
Josh Weil
The Elder Edda
Anonymous, Andrew Orchard