Sunday Morning! On Reading (and reading and reading) Thomas Wolfe

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Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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8 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    Did you ever read Youngblood Hawke? It’s Herman Wouk’s fictionalized version of Wolfe’s life. I read it when I much too young to understand it.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Mike Schilling
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      I didn’t and I’m a bit intimidated to read any of the non-fictionalized bios. From what I’ve heard, he was a bit too much. I do love the image of him writing. He was huge and he said he would write using the top of the refrigerator as a desk for days on end, until he was exhausted basically. Then he’d walk the streets for a few hours and go home to sleep.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    I remember seeing an old cartoon with book reviewers on strike protesting the length of Wolfe’s work.

    As usual, I am pondering what makes or turns someone into a serious reader or one who seeks out less than popular and/or useful books. The most recent books I bought were “The World of the Crusades” by Christopher Tyman from Yale University Press, The German Genius by Peter Watson, and a book of poems by Benjamin Fondane from the New York Review of Books poet series. None of these exactly scream popular reads. A few months ago I was in a book store and picked up some intellectual histories that my friends dubbed “Saul Degraw books” and those are my bookish friends.

    Yet even among highly-educated (or maybe I should say highly-credentialed) professionals that did well in school, there is not much thrist or love for these kind of books. Also a few weeks ago my mom said that she likes that I enjoy reading difficult books and this feels like it is a minority form of praise. Most times when people see my book collection, the reaction is “this is a lot of books” and I hear an implication of why?Report

    • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      That is a good question. Growing up, I read anything and everything; backs of cereal boxes, any and all literature, printing on maps, and so on. And as I was the younger of two boys, I never was able to pick TV shows. Also, I was always reading about reading, which led to picking up longer and more challenging books. I always had a love of SciFi and crime fiction and started seeing those elements in more and more lit, such as Nabakov’s Ada, or Doris Lessing’s works. While none of the books you mention peak my interest, others like them do, but I will admit to being a prose snob. I would pick up a CK Chesterton work on theology before a dry book on a subject I find interesting.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      I have the World of the Crusades. You could have just asked to borrow it, bro.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    Thanks to our very own George, I’ve been listening to the Ushanka show on YouTube. The host is a Russian immigrant to the United States who explains what life was like growing up in the late Soviet Union. It’s great because it isn’t overly political but just present things as the way things were. The host obviously didn’t like the consumer culture in the USSR but felt he got a much better educations than his kids.Report

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