Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Something Lighter

I've always got a book that I'm reading. As long as I've been out of school now, which is a few years, I would have the vague feeling that I was failing some kind of assignment if I wasn't reading. An ongoing effort of mine is to correct some of the deficiencies in my schooling, and that means reading the classics. If the schools had their way, I never would have read any Hemingway, Fitzgerald or most of the rest. I had to take that upon myself, but I just can't manage it all the time.

I just got through with one of those books vigorously competing for the mythical title of Great American Novel, 'The Grapes of Wrath'. The book succeeds at conveying complicated and heavy stuff through relatively simple language, but it is nonetheless very heavy stuff, and I found it challenging. You grow through challenges, but you certainly don't want to face them every day. It's a pleasure therefore to read something a little easier.

I'm not much for truly dispensable literature of the kind readily found at grocery stores and bus stations, and I don't ever dismiss a book by saying that it's not art (as people regularly do with any film that doesn't bear Ingmar Bergman's fingerprints), but there are those that are easier to get through and don't smack of self importance. In my opinion, merely being fun is art too. I hope for that reason that Elmore Leonard will not feel slighted to be included be me in that number.

In order to come down from the very sad but fortifying words of Steinbeck, I picked Leonard's 'Mr. Paradise'. I do hope that my decision is rewarded as it always has been when I have read his work. I expect that to be the case, but I know that I will have a nice change of pace before I delve again into the formidable classics section. Then too I will enjoy a change. Each new book refreshes my enthusiasm or reading (and I never watched that many episodes of Reading Rainbow, although the theme song stays with me).

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