Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Great Unread—May

—People change, she said.
—Oh, no they don’t. Look at me. I’ve never changed. It’s like those sticks of rock: bite it all the way down, you’ll still read Brighton. That’s human nature.

As I mentioned in last month’s challenge post, this month I decided to read my copy of Brighton Rock, which is part of the six-volume “Deluxe Edition” Graham Greene centennial series by Penguin that I bought at the MLA some years ago. Being set in the Brighton underworld, the novel also fit conveniently into this month’s book salon topic, Crime and Punishment.

When I pulled this month’s challenge book down from the shelves, I had no idea what Brighton rock was. Knowing the basic outlines of the plot, I figured it was, you know, a rock, or maybe a cliff. But, no, it is actually a candy sold in seaside towns in the U.K.

[Note: The photo above was ganked from Paperback Reader, who provided me with some comfort by asserting that she had made the same assumption about this title, despite knowing of the candy. I wholeheartedly agree with her assessment that the symbolic use of this candy takes the book to a whole other level.]

Reading this at the end of a series of books related to the topic of crime really pointed up the issue of level, which we discussed at last night’s salon. While I enjoyed the other books I read (A Certain Justice, Killing Floor, To Love and Be Wise, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie) and the latter two had me immediately take out The Franchise Affair, Brat Farrar, and The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag from the library, they did not reach the level of the Greene, even if Brighton Rock itself straddles the line between his earlier “entertainments” and his later “Catholic” novels.

Next month’s read for me will also straddle the classic/popular line: Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours. Besides a translation of Paris au XXe siècle, I’ve never read Jules Verne and I’m really looking forward to it. Of course, it’s a bit of a cheat because I just purchased it on my recent trip to France and haven’t been carting it from apartment to apartment for years like most of the Great Unread, but it syncs up nicely with next month’s book salon on Best Picture Adaptations. I’ve never seen Around the World in 80 Days (1956) either, so I’ve added that to my Netflix queue.

I haven’t heard from readers in awhile. Have you given up on this challenge? Not reading these days? Enquiring minds want to know.


Tamara Skaredoff said...

I'm afraid I have given up on the Great Unread. Between wanting to reread The Song of Ice and Fire, trying to get through all of this year's Hugo award nominees, and the deplorable state of my bookshelves (ie, not filled with books, which are instead either piled on the floor or in boxes in the shed), the Great Unread is just not happening for me right now.

But I still love the idea and will undertake it as soon as I am able!

Sylvie said...

Well, that sounds like quite a challenging list right there. I myself find it really hard to complete this challenge and always seem to be scrambling to get to my selection at the end of the month. And I still need to go back and finish Possession. Luckily, most of my selections have been short or I'd be even further behind.