Mighty Red Pen

April 19, 2009

A race to the finish line

Filed under: Lit review — mighty red pen @ 7:41 pm
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Monday, April 20 is the day we have a little race around these parts called the Boston Marathon. In honor of those who will make it to the finish line, I’m sharing a couple on instances where MRP did not.

You may have heard that MRP is about 35 pages into Updike’s Rabbit, Run and I’m already considering abandoning it for something else a little less, er, smugly self-satisfied with its own literary prowess. Having said that, I have to say that I hate to put a book down once I’ve started it, it’s my own little thing. However, here are three that defeated me:

1. Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins. After 50 pages, I just couldn’t go on. The characters were so vapid. I did, however, usefully learn the difference between naked (you have no clothes on) and nekkid (you have no clothes on and are up to no good), which I have carried with me since then.

2. Vanity Fair, by Thackeray. I wanted to read this because I grew up near Thackeray Road and also it may have been on some list of “Great Books” or something. But eventually the, er, vanity just got to me.

3. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving. I DID ACTUALLY READ THIS ENTIRE BOOK BUT I FOUND THE ALL CAPS THING SO ANNOYING THAT I WISHED I HAD JUST PUT IT DOWN.

So I put this to you, readers: what’s a book you’ve put down before finishing because you just couldn’t stand to get to the end? And why?

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January 29, 2009

Updike redux

Filed under: Lit review,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:43 pm
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Apparently, MRP is not the only one who confuses John Updike and John Irving. According to an insightful and touching (and even humorous) remembrance by John Irving himself, it happened all the time:

For a period of time—no longer—fans used to confuse the two of us. How could this have happened? Because we were both “John”? It was baffling, but I got numerous fan letters that were meant for him, and he got fan letters that were meant for me, and this gave us the occasion to write to each other—and send the misdirected fan mail to each other.

Read the rest of Irving’s musings in “Dear John: What I’ll Miss About John Updike.” 

January 28, 2009

On bidding John Updike adieu

Filed under: At home with MRP,Lit review — mighty red pen @ 6:56 pm
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So no doubt you’ve heard by now that John Updike has passed away. MRP has two things to share with you about that.

1. In honor of his passing, I resolve to actually read one of his books. Every book I could think of that I thought was one of his that I had read was in fact by John Irving. I welcome suggestions as to where I should get started.

2. In a conversation about Updike’s death, someone exclaimed something to the effect of “Are there any living U.S. authors  that are worth reading anymore?” My first reaction was, there, there, it can’t be all that bad. I suppose people would point to such authors as Philip Roth, Toni Morrison, or Joyce Carol Oates, for example. Mister MRP immediately suggested the aformentioned Irving and also Tim O’Brien. So I put it to you, dear readers: are there any living U.S. authors that are worth reading now that John Updike is gone?

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