Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Sorry to keep whinging about end of the semester issues

I really am sorry, a bit. Particularly as approaching exigencies of various kinds make it seem extremely likely that I'll be doing even less blog-writing over the next quarter than I have managed to squeeze out recently. I don't propose to go away entirely, I'd find that harder than necessary I think, but I might just post Rorschach blots for you to interpret or something.

How did I get onto that. I really meant to say that the general end-of-semester collapse this year has taken the form of obsessive desires to read books which have very little to do with what I'm actually writing about. The Road is a case in point, I gulped this down in two long sittings, it's quite an extraordinary book and it has kept me awake for two nights in a row thinking about it. But it really has nothing to do with my research, indeed it's fair and square in the purview of a very good friend who recently submitted her phd, and my obsessing over it is probably related to her completion in some fashion.

I feel slightly more justified in reading The Children of Men since I fully intend to slot it into some gaps in one of the more ruinous chapters.

You would think that if I recognise irrational patterns of this sort in my book consumption I'd be able to just cut it out. But I just came across a review in the Telegraph (UK) of a book by Gilbert Adair, who is just about the all-purpose writer / reader / critic person I revere most in the whole world, which I know I'm going to have to devote way too much time in the next few days to finding a copy of in order that I may read it.

I would go read that review if I were you. But if you can't be bothered, Adair's book is a pastiche of an Agatha Christie novel and it's called "The Act of Roger Murgatroyd." How WONDERFUL is that.

20 comments:

Ampersand Duck said...

I had a look at The Road yesterday, and it's definitely on my (near) future reading list.

Bernice Balconey said...

Not being released in Aust til January -so much for the free and untrammelled flow of information in the information age

Tim said...

I only just discovered Cormac McCarthy two days ago. All The Pretty Horses is great. I now have a copy of The Road and it looks even better. Why didn't somebody tell me he was so good?

lucy tartan said...

Bernice that's bad news.

I'll try to find a rejected review copy languishing in some forgotten corner of eBay.

lucy tartan said...

Tim - until about a year and a half ago I thought he was a lady. (Carson McCullers.)

TimT said...

Maybe it's a common thing? This reading when there's a thesis/essay deadline coming up?

When I was finishing my dissertation at uni (I had about two weeks to go), in a fit of obsession with gothic melodramas, I went out to the Co-Op bookstore and bought 'The Mysteries of Udolpho', by Anne Radcliffe. It's a huge book, about 600 odd pages (VERY odd pages).

I told myself that I would be easily able to finish both of them, and set myself the simple task of READING 150 PAGES every day!!! I would go out into the tiny garden of the inner-city rented house in Sydney, sit down, and start reading in a very determined fashion.

Of course, I didn't quite meet my deadline of 150 pages a day, but I did become deeply engrossed in the book. Bizarrely, though, I did finish both the dissertation and the book, although not without some hiccoughs along the way.

Good book! What were we talking about again?

lucy tartan said...

I don't know.

Pavlov's Cat said...

TimT, that's the original Gothic novel. She started it all.

The reading-while-you-have-to-do-other-stuff is classic scholar displacement behaviour. I spent most of the three years of thesis-writing (on Australian fiction) compulsively reading all of the letters, diaries, fiction and nonfiction of Virginia Woolf and everyone connected with her. I would have written a much better thesis on that, if I'd been allowed to.

kate said...

I spent Honours (St Patrick/Dante/medievel conceptions of the afterlife) reading about medieval conceptions of sexuality. I'm very good at finding something related, but not quite relevant. It still feels like you're working then.

My Mum cites a classmate who thought SwotVac was a good time to read War & Peace (she studied Latin & Geography, so it definitely wasn't on the reading list) which made her feel better about treating the same study time as a perfect period in which to teach herself to knit. My Grandma kept the resultant teacosy.

Sophie said...

I've started writing a thesis. Now all I do is read Michael Connolly thrillers. I did actually read the much classier, but also irrelevant to my work, The Road. I found it devastating.

Kate(wemightneedsomewayoftellingthekatesapartsoon) said...

I'm afraid that after reading the entire Borderlands Trilogy in a week I felt so depressed it took me not one but two Terry Pratchett novels to cheer up. That's not meant to be a negative comment, because I agree that McCarthy is brilliant. (Yes, I read Terry Pratchett novels to make myself feel better, and I am only slightly defensive about this.)

At least your end of semester grousing is interesting, Laura. I can barely manage to finish a sentence at the moment. Let alone blog with anything resembling vim or vigour.

Kate said...

Also, and AT LAST: BAZLOTTO! W33T!!!

lucy tartan said...

1st Kate, related but not quite relevant is a good thing, if you're lucky enough to be able to keep it under control. I'm not always. But the kind of scholarly writing I like best and aspire to being able to do one day is full of marginally relevant but amazing little sidetracks and tangents.

Sophie, what is your thesis about? That octopus kid costume on your blog is excellent. This is evil but it actually reminded me of a big blue burqa.

2nd Kate, thank you for saying my whining is interesting. I'm sure you'll feel better soon. And I'm even more sure it'll all be worth it.

I do see what you mean about maybe needing some way of telling the Kates apart, but I quite like it when I have to work out which one of you it is - there are three who come around fairly regularly and two more who comment less often - it's a little linguistic identikit challenge.

I'm sure everyone else here can pretty much tell you apart as well. And if they can't, well that's at least partly of their own making for not paying attention.

What none of you should do is feel like you have to call yourselves anything but 'Kate' if you don't want to.

You're not as badly off as the Tims and the Davids if that's any consolation.

Congratulations on getting bazlotto. Feels good doesn't it.

Bernice said...

Kate, twould only be a problem if you read Terry P to further your knowledge of magic (cf Unseen University). & appropo of absolutely nothing, this week's screenshot is screaming out ofr a caption competition. Oh poo try typing this after two glasses of cheap publisher launch white.

Tim #4592 said...

You're right, Laura, it's no fun being a blogging Tim. More than once I've been abused in comment threads by people who thought I was Tim Blair.

Tony.T said...

Blood Meridian goes rather well if you're into the kind of Ahab-like, enormous, bald vigilantes that I am.

lucy tartan said...

That you're into, or that you are?

Tim, what were you saying to make people think you were Tim Blair?

ThirdCat said...

The night before my matric biology exam I learnt to say the alphabet backwards. So I think what you are doing - reading books which interest, stimulate and perhaps motivate you - is extremely productive.

Tim said...

Can't remember, Laura. Evidently something ideologically unsound.

Kate said...

Sometimes I do regret not going with a slightly snazzier, more unusual, and less reality-based Internet name. But everything I came up with sounded either insufferably lame or pretentious. Feminist righteous anger produced Kali_the_destroyer. Yikes. Childhood nickname produced Cucumber. Adult nickname produced 'Katester'. Name of first pet produced Chewie. Ah, no.

Sigh. In many ways, I am not hugely imaginative.