The Bibliophile’s Journal VIII

Yeah, dropping the post subtitling thing after one week. Maybe next time, if I think of something good.

Anyway, this past month may mark the beginning of a change in the way I read books, since I’ve subscribed to Audible. I’ve listened to a handful of audiobooks in the past, and though I don’t like them nearly as much as sitting down and reading through a physical book I decided to give this a try since I often find myself listening to podcasts while, say, cooking or working out. I don’t actually follow many podcasts, though, but audiobooks seem like a logical step. Besides, I don’t get through as many books as I’d like, and this should help with that.

The first audiobook I downloaded was Mishima Yukio’s The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. Like I expect from a Mishima novel, much of the story consists of either seemingly unrelated anecdotes of the narrator’s life or philosophical tangents, but they all tie together and lead towards the novel’s climax (so it seems so far, but I’m 90% through and am pretty sure I know where this will end). Mishima’s stories remind me somewhat of Flannery O’Connor in that he likes to make use of the grotesque not so much for shock value, but to make a larger point, though that point seems more obscure with Mishima than O’Connor. At least, I feel like I grasp O’Connor’s ideas more readily than Mishima’s.

On a side note, it took some time to get used to the reader’s voice. It’s softer and higher-pitched than I expected, though I suppose it does match what I imagine the narrator’s voice would sound like. I guess I was just prefer movie announcer guy’s voice when listening to someone read.

On the dead-tree front, I started George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. I always feel like a bit of a sell-out whenever I read something currently popular, but it looks interesting enough that I figured I’d give it a shot; unfortunately, I’ve put it on hold after about sixty pages. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but it just hasn’t pulled me in. Part of the problem may be the frequently-shifting point of view, so it’s taking too long to get invested in any one character. I’ll give it another try later, though, probably on audiobook.

I also re-read Azuma Hideo’s Disappearance Diary. Maybe I’m too impressionable and maybe I just need to get a less-sucky job, but Azuma’s voluntary homelessness looked almost appealing. One thing I thought on this read-through that didn’t strike me last time was “What is Azuma’s wife doing with him gone?” Azuma just vanished twice, for at least several months the second time, and later had to be involuntarily hospitalised for alcoholism. Meanwhile, she must’ve been stuck just having to wonder where he is and whether he’s okay, and I hope she wasn’t completely reliant on his income.

Also on the re-reading front, I’ve gone through the Norton Critical Edition of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Well, actually mostly just skimmed the critical material, though I did read a fair number of the pieces from the “Sources” section. Mostly, I just wanted to read the poem aloud. I’ve found that reading poems this way greatly increases my enjoyment of them, though Eliot poses a particular challenge to anyone attempting to do this. I think I handled the French lines okay, and don’t think I did too badly on the German and Italian. If anyone knows how to read lines like “Co co rico” and “jub jub jub jub jub jub” without sounding like a jackass, though, I’d love to hear the secret.

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