I just put down Barth’s Chimera and found it, as my too-clever title suggests, kind of meh. At times, it’s delightfully irreverent (Barth likes a good dick joke; or a bad one; really, any dick joke will do) and really funny. At other times, it’s just kind of dull or labored or, well, too clever. It falls into the category of books that I didn’t enjoy a whole lot or find earth-shattering but that I’m ultimately glad I read. If it had been much longer, I might have put it down. There’s more Barth I want to read, but I think I’ll give him a rest for now. I read The Sot-Weed Factor and the early novellas earlier this year.
After starting Chimera, I was given former Mets pitcher Ron Darling’s book The Complete Game, and I took a mid-book break from Barth to read it. Great literature it wasn’t, but I enjoyed it. Darling recounts a dozen or so innings from his career, giving insight into what’s going on in a pitcher’s mind (or his, at least) during/before/after various game situations. It was a pretty fun read, though I wish he had generalized some of the information a little more. I had hoped to learn more about pitching strategies at large from the book and didn’t pick up a whole lot in that way. The book turns out to be something of a downer, but it’s good reading nevertheless for the baseball fan who’s interested in a twist on standard sports biography.
What’s up next I haven’t decided yet. I think I’m going to cleanse the old palate with a reread of Gaddis’s brief Agape Agape, which I did a pretty crummy job of reading a few years ago. After that, I’m debating rereading either Gaddis’s The Recognitions (I’d really prefer to reread JR, but I’ve been through it a few times and sort of nodded through parts of The Recognitions during my only time reading it) or rereading Moby Dick, an old favorite that I haven’t touched in probably six years. Or maybe I’ll find something new. I’d like to read more McCarthy, and — I’ll be honest — Infinite Jest is already calling out to me again.