February Lately

I am not sure how to start a blog post anymore. But I am running on very little sleep (averaging about 5 hours these days), so we shall forgo the creativity today and just write some words!

Work has kept me insanely busy lately, and between that and other endeavors, I haven’t had the wherewithal to do much reading. There is something nice, however, about the little reading that I have done; it lends it a bit more weight, maybe. (One likes to tell oneself.)

I finished part 4 (of 6) of Crime and Punishment a week or two ago. It was very satisfying to see Raskolnikov’s sister finally stand up for herself and confront her slimy fiancé. Then we had Raskolnikov’s harrowing “interview” with the detective, which has got to be one of the craziest conversations in the Dostoyevsky-verse. Good times. But even at two-thirds read, this book still feels like it has a lot of development to do. It is proto-modern in its leisurely pacing and (as one friend described it to me) cyclical plot.

My current focus is still Joyce’s Dubliners. I am halfway through these short stories and still enjoying them greatly. Many of them are quite bleak, but as a whole they are brilliantly written and often end with a poignant twist. His writing in this collection is deft and concise, a far cry from Conrad’s psychological verbosity—both greats of their time, yet so different from each other. So if you are intimidated by Joyce, Dubliners seems like a decent starting point and don’t worry about it being Conradian.

Lastly, a friend and I read aloud “To Build a Fire” by Jack London. We were both expecting something more shocking, but it is a simple story and very simply told. It follows a man who takes a foolish trip solo in far-below freezing temperatures, accompanied by his dog. To say anything more would spoil what little interest there is. It’s a great concept for a story, but the writing was underwhelming and nowhere near London’s best. If you are looking for an unnerving story of the wilderness, perhaps read Algernon Blackwood’s “The Wendigo” instead.