Not too long before Infinite Summer started up, I ordered books by two authors I figured I was overdue to read. The first was Cormac McCarthy, whose Suttree is set in Knoxville, where I happen to live. I read that one during the last couple of weeks of Infinite Jest (and enjoyed it; will be reading more McCarthy for sure). I hadn’t really known about McCarthy until fairly recently, which fact I suppose I should be a little embarrassed about.
The other author I had known about for a long time. Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel is set in a fictional town based on Asheville, NC, just a hop over the mountains from where I live. Further, Wolfe studied at UNC Chapel Hill, where I happen also to have studied. He’s kind of a big deal around those parts, yet I never managed to read more than one chapter from his signature novel (and that one from deep in the book, excerpted for a Southern literature class), or anything else he wrote. I always meant to but just never was in the frame of mind for what I figured would be a coming-of-age type novel set in a South I had grown up in and found uninteresting and perhaps unworthy of reading about.
As I get older, a sense of place, and more specifically of my own place — the place where my people are from — is more and more important to me, and I suddenly find myself yearning to read about the places I once took to be prosaic and probably a little backward. And so, having gotten a taste of Knoxville in McCarthy’s novel, I’ve now moved eastward and back in time (on both the literary calendar and the calendar of my own geographical migration) to Asheville, where I’ll read about the angel Wolfe borrowed from Milton (a particular interest of mine while studying yet farther east in Chapel Hill) at the same time I’m reading about the demons we’re all being treated to this Halloween month courtesy of Bram Stoker.
What else are you reading alongside Dracula?
Still working on Infinite Jest, though I’ve set it aside for October, to focus on Dracula. I’m also about twenty-five pages from the end of Julian Barnes’ memoir/meditation Nothing to Be Frightened Of, which a friend sent me.
I’m working my way through McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, which I’m loving but at the same time struggling with. It’s so f–king good, but I read 20 pages and I’m mentally exhausted.
My experience with Blood Meridian was similar. It’s rich stuff and slow going, but worth it.
I felt the same way about the little preface thing to Suttree and thought it was going to be a real skull-crusher, but it turned out to be a pretty easy read, with nice alteration between lush prose and great, spare dialogue. I was thinking I’d read The Road as my next taste of McCarthy, but maybe I’ll do Blood Meridian.
Glad to find you reading Dracula, Daryl. Have read Dracula several times, and for me it is hopelessly adulterated with vampire influences ranging from Anne Rice to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc. Looking forward to reading some fresh points of view.
Reading Gravity’s Rainbow in parallel. And Saramago’s Death at Intervals. But would rather be reading Cormac McCarthy. Have The Border Trilogy on hold.