Monday, March 10, 2008

Within 24 hours...

... the frighteningly clever Marly had guessed the book I'm reading from which came yesterday's extract, which was 'God Knows' by Joseph Heller. I first read it about 20 years ago when I picked it up after someone I lived with, who was a Heller and Vonnegut fan, had finished it. It stayed with me and I fancied re-reading it. At about the same time I also read the one about Rembrandt, 'Picture This', but I can remember little about that. I've never read 'Catch 22' , it's never much appealed.

But I did enjoy 'God Knows'. It's narrated by King David ( yes, the King David, the one who slew Goliath), at the end of his life, as he is ministered unto by Abishag the Shunamite, reflecting on his career and that of his people. Though one has the impression that Heller's biblical and historical knowledge is spot-on, the book makes no attempt to be historically authentic, as the extract shows, he is telling the story with the full knowledge of all the history, culture and literature that came after, makes references to the King James Bible, interjections in Yiddish, complains about Michelangelo misrepresenting him not least in giving him a foreskin, and generally revels in anachronism and anomaly to great comic effect. Bathsheba, it is revealed, is a callous, go-getting WASP; his first wife Michal a shrewish Jewish American Princess; Solomon is a boorish, literal-minded nitwit who really did want to cut the baby in half and whose best lines in the Song of Songs were really written by his father. David himself is brash, rash, pragmatic, sexy, arch and very funny, and ultimately movingly, tragically human, in his final irretrievable loss of his children and his God.

Well worth a read. And a re-read, so I lately got a copy from Amazon Marketplace for a penny and the postage.

So I've tagged Marly, who, as well as bringing up her lively brood, and writing proper books and gardening and heaven knows what else, is reading about five books at once, to give us an extract from one of them.

I think I'll also tag:

Avus - who's an impressively erudite fellow and usually up for a meme.
Joe / Plutarch - who doesn't usually get picked on for such things, but as he writes of three beautiful things a day, and often seems to be reading something interesting, one of the beautiful things could perhaps be an extract from what he is reading?( And yes, it can be in French, you can translate it if you want...)
Spiralskies - who's turned up in this neck of the woods quite recently. I know she's a bit shellshocked at returning to the world of full-time work, but she still manages to blog, has finished her novel... that's a point, she's supposed to be editing it now, she could give us an extract of that...
Jonathan in Paris, who comes up with some rare and wonderful poetry, his own and others', and must have something interesting to hand.

So with Marly, that's five. The basic rules are:

1. Pick up the book you are reading, or else the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

However, you can vary them as you wish, including not tagging other people or doing it at all.


Talking of memes, Tristan did a lovely seven random facts about himself. He's an enigmatic, self-effacing, thoughtful chap, who takes beautiful photos, often on nostalgic (for me) tours of south-east England, with a great eye for architectural detail. He doesn't write a lot but when he does it's never enough. Well-read and wears it lightly like a flower, you know. I remember hearing he once left a litre bottle of walnut oil - a real, in-the-flesh one, not a virtual one, at Joe's house with a recommendation to use it on goats' cheese, which I thought was the most incredibly stylish, impressive thing I was stricken with envy! When he shows up here (virtually that is to say) I always feel all overcome and sillily pleased. I'm half-afraid of sounding patronising here, I don't mean to. In fact, I might have tagged him for the meme, but I know he's rather busy and preoccupied with what he's going to wear when he goes to Madrid!

Talking again of memes, some fun over at Mrs Chili's I came by indirectly. A challenge to write your autobiography, or, at least, sum up your life, in just six words. Mine was ' Here I am. So what happened?'


Mike said...

I always love going around and reading these memes. It's a great way to get a personal glimpse of people we only know through the internet.

I was never much of a Heller fan. I did read "Catch-22," but never really got interested in his other stuff. Maybe I need to look into him again.

Lucy said...

Mike, thanks for coming and commenting, it's true what they say, you are a dear!

Jen said...

I'm ashamed to admit that Catch 22 was always a bit too much for me. I really must try it again when I grow up.

Ta for the tag - I shall get round to it soon. And yes, I may well do it from The Novel. Har.

Anonymous said...

this was a fun read. memes are sometimes surprisingly interesting! :)

katydidnot said...

i heart memes. they're fun!

Lucy said...

Thank you dears. I may post an anthology of the garnered extracts at some point, I'm quite enjoying them!

Anonymous said...

"frighteningly clever": that is nice, especially since I spend a lot of time wondering whether my scatterbrain in due to three children or senility.