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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Books Read Lately

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

Before the Oscar-winning film, there was the book. Three women in three different decades of the 20th century deal with personal and family problems, all connected to the storyline/character problems of Clarissa Dalloway, Virginia Woolf’s tragic heroine of the eponymous title. The book is short, the movie long. The movie did a better job, or maybe I recalled the movie so well that I had unrealistic expectations.

The Professor of Desire by Philip Roth

David Kepesh gives his life story in a mere 90,000 words, from precocious child holding early desires to college man-about-campus but who fails to ever get a date, to English professor whose desire for women brings him to a psychiatrist and then we get a wonderful story of the connection between his life and that of famous authors, characters, etc. I found this book extremely well told, inventive, and holding a lot for so short a book.

The Bell by Iris Murdoch

Dora Greenfield is a bit flaky, runs away from her husband, comes back, settles with him into a lay-religious camp where he is doing research. Then the people of the camp get into the act, and here we get a cast of real misfits, thrown together for the purpose of leading a ersatz-religious life. Enter the story of the nearby Abbey’s bell, cast away a century before on some indiscretion. A new bell is about to be christened, and then the old bell is found at the bottom of a lake. High-jinks afoot. This is another well-told story by Murdoch, whose focus on people and their goodness, as well as their flaws, make reading a pleasure.

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