A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Housman

Harold Bloom dedicates a section of How to Read and Why to poetry, because, he says, “Poetry is the crown of imaginative literature.” (How to Read and Why, page 69). I don’t feel Bloom’s insights actually are helping me read poetry, but I’ve decided to read the poets he suggests because it’s a broad introduction to some good poetry (I hope).

I’d never heard of A.E. Housman and in some respects I wish I still hadn’t. While Housman’s poems are easy to read and “lyrical,” the collection A Shropshire Lad (written in 1896) is horribly depressing and seems to me to capture the poet’s deep-rooted depression.Continue Reading

How to Read and Why: Short Stories Retrospective

Last June, I had just barely begun book blogging. My reading was beginning to expand beyond my comfort zone (i.e., go to the library and randomly take a book with a pretty cover off the shelf) and into the world of TBR lists. When I read the preface to Harold Bloom’s How to Read and Why, I decided I needed to focus my reading. I asked myself the question:

How can I really “read” a book, even fiction, to get something out of it?

I decided to treat Bloom’s book as a textbook as I read through the works on his list, in search of the answer to that question. The How to Read and Why Reading List can be found here; all posts on Rebecca Reads relating to HTR&W can be found on the HTR&W tag.

Since I have now finished the short story portion of the HTR&W challenge, I thought I’d take the chance to revisit the project itself.Continue Reading

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino was a book that confused me from beginning to end, and yet I am glad I read it. Calvino was trying to do something creatively strange, and I think I missed it, but the strangeness was a bit rewarding in the end. All that said, I am struggling to say something coherent about the book.Continue Reading

Stories by Tommaso Landolfi

I’m somewhat at a loss of what to say about Gogol’s Wife and Other Stories by Tommaso Landolfi.

In some respects, Landolfi’s stories reminded of Borges’ Fictions: they have elements the bizarre. I didn’t enjoy reading Borges (thoughts here), but I did sense a genius and power behind the writing. Landolfi’s writing is likewise laudable, although I wonder once again what the genius behind the stories actually is. I think it is beyond me.Continue Reading