I'm sick, but I'm also bored. Thus, I'm posting. Now that I seem to have gotten over my two and a half week sinus infection, there's a stomach flu going around. Nice.
On a happier note, I've begun work on the 2009 Essay Reading Challenge. I was without the attention span to read anything lengthy the other day, so I picked up Harold Bloom's How to Read and Why.
I take issue with Harold Bloom on most things, but this book is designed to get the general public excited about reading. While I don't always agree with Bloom's contentions about what constitutes "good reading" and I think he's a bit of a pompous ass for trying to tell anyone what constitutes "goodness," I did enjoy some of what he had to say.
The book is broken down into sections: Short Stories, Poems, Novels (pt. 1), Plays, and Novels (pt. 2). Each section contains short essays on specific works and authors that Bloom favors. Of the essays I've read thus far, my favorite is on Flannery O'Connor. My students are reading some of her work this semester, and I've always adored her. Bloom writes:
...the people who throng O'Connor's marvelous stories are the damned, a category in which Flannery O'Connor cheerfully included most of her readers. I think that the best way to read her stories is to begin by acknowledging that one is among her damned, and then go on from there to enjoy her grotesque and unforgettable art of telling.
In particular, Bloom discusses two of my favorite O'Connor stories, "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and "Good Country People." I read both of them as a teen for a UIL Literary Criticism competition for school, and I was totally taken aback by O'Connor's...weirdness. There's no other way to put it, really. It was one of the first times, along with William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," that I realized classic literature could be creepy, shocking, and endlessly involving.
Props to Bloom for loving O'Connor. We definitely have that in common. As for his essays--meh. They're fun, and they're nice to read, and they're quick, but I actually find this essay on O'Connor, and most of the other essays in the book, less than satisfying. I feel sure if I were to read one of Bloom's longer works I would be more interested, but these essays are short for a reason: they are written for a general audience that may not necessarily be readers.