09.02.23 [on the J train]

i made what turned out to be the extremely solid decision to read david copperfield right before* reading barbara kingsolver's demon copperhead, which i managed to hear almost nothing about aside from the whole riffing-on-dickens stuff. i don't know if you know this, but david copperfield is a RIPPING YARN; perhaps dickens was always this way and i just haven't read him in 20 years, maybe he hits a little different when you read him as a crone, maybe that's one of the best novels in the english language or something. but i'll tell you what, it also turns out to be a respectable summer read, immersive as it is, and all of the little adult-dave asides on kid-dave as he saw his mother for the last time and so on–lovely, just lovely. it was excellent to have all of that fresh in my mind when i moved on to barbara kingsolver for comp-lit cud-chewing purposes, even if some of the analogs were a bit superficial, though it turns out i really missed having mister micawber as a major-ish and sympathetic character? (the mccobbs in the contemporary novel are pretty uninteresting, and not at all epistolary). i didn't really respond to opioids as a big plot point, in turn–while i appreciate kingsolver's criticism there and realize that her being moved to make it is a lot of what got her to dance with dickens in the first place, there wasn't much elegance in how it was framed. collapsing the weirdness of the hero's first marriage into the collateral damages of big pharma–demon's first love is infantile because of drugs!–robs that character of the neat little glimmer of sympathy one develops for her at the end, at least for me. rose dartell, in turn, is just boring–and rose dartle was mysterious and a little terrifying in david copperfield!

i've moved from my copperfield/copperhead adventures to paved paradise, a book about parking and americans' disastrous addiction to it, and if i double back and read a victorian city-planning treatise afterward i will surely perish. that said, it's taken care of at least some of the insomnia that's been swiss-cheesing summer nights for me; after 20 minutes of [very astute observations about] parking, half an hour tops, i am fit only for oblivion.

[postscript as i finally input this train-post three months later: that parking book was pretty fantastic, and i think it radicalized me? or radicalized me about something else, i mean. i hope these out-of-sequence updates aren't too annoying, and i'll get better about transcribing them in a timely manner in the new year, baby, believe me this time.]

*technically i took a break and read idra novey's excellent take what you need when it popped up among my library hold requests right in the middle; it's also about the rust belt, and maybe better than demon copperhead, but that is a story for another time.

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