07.09.02 all that's right with our great country

Paul here again, using the shift key and advising everyone to go read Ian McEwan's Atonement pronto. The prose is so good that I cannot quote the prose to demonstrate how good it is. It is far too subtle. Also, I left the book in Reno. But it was a terrible shock to move from that to American Pastoral, 25% of which I read on the Amtrak coming down here. So far I don't know. Very little is happening, and the things that do happen are buried under four stomachs' worth of rumination. (Trenchant and considered rumination, to be sure, but I really dislike essays masquerading as narrative.) It doesn't bother me that Roth feels compelled to put a circle jerk in his idyllic 1950s America—I mean, you expect that sort of thing from the man—but it's a bad sign that said circle jerk, which takes all of two sentences, is actually one of the more memorable events so far. We'll see. Frank Conroy claims it's the best American novel since The Great Gatsby, so maybe Roth's just been clearing his throat so far.

Singing Scrabble: you put down a word, you sing part of a song containing that word. It's harder than you think, and sometimes it leads to inelegancies like "Qat Scratch Fever," and it requires you to drink a lot of red wine so that the next day, when you are in the Middle Eastern restaurant for lunch, your head abruptly folds on itself and your stomach, thrown off balance, tries to reject the tabouleh you've been giving it and for the next three hours you can only lie on the couch and drink tapwater. This requires a change in plans, for I must be a hardy young man to sleep on the beach this weekend.

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