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“And another thing…”

March 7, 2009 Leave a comment

Re-reading “Slaughter-House Five” right now. This quote has been cracking me up for the past few days:

I had the Bell Telephone Company find [my old war buddy] for me.They are wonderful that way. I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone. I get drunk, and I drive my wife away with breath like mustard gas and roses. And then, speaking gravely and elegantly into the telephone, I ask the telephone operators to connect me with this friend or that one, from whom I have not heard in years. (4)

I just love the idea of Kurt Vonnegut drunk dialing people from World War II.

“The Cider House Rules”, John Irving

January 7, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m working on “The Cider House Rules” right now. I read it once before, more than three years ago. I don’t remember liking it as much then as I do now. I only read “The World According to Garp” last year, but it was one of those books that has the effect of a sucker punch. Since reading it, I have read a number of John Irving books; he is one of my favourite contemporary American authors.

“The Cider House Rules”, as the other Irving books I have read, is very sensitively written. Irving often takes detours into his character’s lives or thoughts. I would not say that he meanders, as his asides are substantial and well-plotted. They create wonderfully round characters that a person cannot help but feel for. His heros are generally quite flawed, often New England orphans, and incredibly likable, even as they do bad things.

In “The Cider House Rules”, one of the main characters is Dr. Wilbur Larch, an obstetrician and abortionist who runs an orphanage in a small, depressing, damned Maine town. Here’s an excellent description of him, from The L-rd’s Work:

Later, when [Dr. Larch] would have occasion to doubt himself, he would force himself to remember: he had slept with someone’s mother and dressed himself in the light of her daughter’s cigar. He could quite comfortably abstain from from having sex for the rest of his life, but how could he ever condemn another person for having sex? He would remember, too, what he hadn’t done for Mrs. Eames’s daughter, and what that had cost.
He would deliver babies. He would deliver mothers, too.