Monday, May 21, 2012

Books I'm Reading Right Now + bonus griping

I had a really frustrating day at work last week, and one of the most frustrating parts of it is that I can't write about it here, even without naming names and pointing fingers.  Gone are the days when people could vent their spleens without getting sued or losing their jobs or whatever.

Or were they ever here?  I'm in the midst of reading Toward the Brink by Claude Manceron where people got jailed for writing less confrontational and critical stuff.  I guess it's for my own good.  Though it's highly unlikely my boss would ever read it and correctly deduce it's me writing about my job, and though it probably wouldn't cost me my job, it would only make work more uncomfortable.

Speaking of Toward the Brink, I'm having one of those mixed experiences that drive me crazy.  On the one hand, the author puts you right there in the middle of things and makes it feel like everyone is a fully-realized person, which of course they were at the time.  So it's very humanizing.  On the other hand, I'm in the middle of the series and I often feel lost.  I don't think that's the fault of where I started, though.  I think it's the writing style.  The writing often presents as the author sharing a lot of inside jokes and anecdotal material with readers who ought to know everyone involved.  It is, after all, the French Revolution.  And who hasn't heard of the Marquis de Sade? (for example.)

And sure I've heard of him.  But when the author starts bandying around first names I've never heard and whips out a bunch of nicknames of various people associated with him, I turn into the most ignorant person in the world.

So although I'm loving the information and the sense of place and culture and people, I just bought a copy of 1776 by David McCullough which I know is going to be a much more reader-friendly book, and I'm tempted to set the intelligent and fascinating Manceron for the equally intelligent, accessible and engrossing McCullough.

That probably makes me a bad person.  I'll keep on a keepin' on with Toward the Brink.  But if 1776 ends up on my nightstand and I accidentally start reading it after my bath when I settle in to bed tonight, I won't be the least bit surprised.

PS--I got 1776 for $10 at a used book fair.  I was all pleased with myself until I saw the fully illustrated version (with maps!) for $25 at another booth.  I was good and stuck to my budget, but there was much pouting, lip-quivering and whining.  My poor friend R and the girl bore up to it well.  They're so good to me.

No comments: