Now Reading – August 18


I just finished JUDE THE OBSCURE by Thomas Hardy. It was the only major Hardy I hadn’t read and it was reliably sturdy and readable, written with an elegant simplicity and making the most of its spare drama—the tragedy that occurs in the last third took me by surprise because it was genuinely shocking. Almost finished with THE KINDLY ONES by Jonathan Littell which I bought when it came out years ago but only picked up in the last couple of months and am convinced it’s a masterpiece—a 1000 page novel narrated by a young German rising through the SS in the final years of WW II with a guaranteed horror every seventy pages or so (Stalingrad, Auschwitz). I am not recommending this novel to everyone—it will be impossible for some people with a monstrous narrator. It’s actually an overwhelming act of sympathetic imagination and I was both horrified and mesmerized and never bored even though the book definitely has—because of its immersive quality—its narrative digressions. And as for non-fiction just finished BLURRED LINES by Vanessa Grigoriadis, a fascinating and infuriating book about campus rape culture, which is actually a character study about millennial identity, the warping of Title IX under the Obama era, and how there needs to be larger conversations about the differences between men and women by removing the ideological barriers of political correctness and identity politics.

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