Now is not the time to read Anna Karenina.

I read The Fire Gospel last night/early this morning. Michel Faber’s satiric examination of the current marketability of religious narratives is everything it promised to be: “provocative”, “hilarious”, and “shocking”. It was also terribly sad.

Between Ricci, Saramago, Faber, and a handful of terrifying Neil Gaiman stories (more on that later), I’m feeling a bit exhausted by well-written novels that lure me in with promises of wit and brilliance, only to also deliver brilliant comically tragic conclusions. I am a mess of conflicted melancholic contemplation.

I’m postponing a few reads (Ondaatje’s Running in the Family, Mrs. Dalloway) and turning to comedy: perhaps Brome’s A Mad Couple
Well-match’d. Are early-modern comedies complex? Absolutely. Do they include controversial ruinous marriages and bleak humour about the plague? Of course. Do I expect to find myself conflicted at the end? Obviously. But at least I know no one’s getting shot.

31 December 2008 ~ St. Catharines

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