Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What I'm Reading...Roger Angell

I have once again learned my lesson about giving myself assignments...sigh. Black History month has to be deemed a reading failure for me. I'm about 2/3 of the way thru Uncle Tom's Cabin, but it has been that way for awhile. The thing is, it isn't a complex read. Beloved was infinitely more complex. Stowe's style, most early American lit. style it would seem, is just a little difficult to take. When I reviewed Dreiser last year, I mentioned how he tended to show up at the beginning of chapters to sort of give the reader a topic sentence for the chapter he/she was about to read. Even with Sister Carrie, I found this off putting, and I loved Sister Carrie. (In fairness, I believe Hugo did this some in Les Miserables, as well. So perhaps it isn't just Early American lit.) With Dreiser, though, he got his topic sentence out of the way, and then let the story prove his point. Not so with Stowe...she is constantly popping up to spoon feed the reader. It is irritating...especially when it's painfully obvious the point she is trying to make with her story. I am going to finish Uncle Tom's Cabin, because despite Stowe's exposition, I still find the story interest AND because I am of the mind that one of the best ways to understand a period of history is to read the fiction of its time.

Black history month wasn't a total failure for me though...as all the dear readers know, I did read Beloved, which was another great Toni Morrison book. And I also purchased a copy of Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings for my Nook. I didn't get to reading it, but it is waiting for me on Mt. TBR.

Right now...Spring Training games have started and that means it is time to dust off copies of my Roger Angell books. For the uninitiated, Angell is/was(?) a writer and editor for The New Yorker magazine. He is well known for his pieces of baseball, and rightfully so. Every half decade or so, a collection of these pieces are published in book form. He is my favorite writer of my passion - baseball.

I read a fair amount about baseball, and I once played the game (college and pro). So, I'm pretty well informed on the game. Most writers of the pastime attempt to uncover new ideas/statistical analysis/scandals etc. Angell does none of that. He writes as a fan. Reading Angell is about as close as you can get to sitting in the stands without actually doing so...moreso than even watching a game on TV IMO. His prose is beautiful and poetic. He writes romantically about a game that everyone else wants boil down to a few rows and columns on page 2 of your Sports section.

So, yep, every spring...Roger Angell. I'm ready for a beer and a dog.

(Oh and I've also started The Master by Colm Toibin.)


  1. I commend you for even giving yourself the assignment. And you got through Beloved, which is certainly no easy feat.

    If you are interested my dad (a big baseball fan) had sent me a New Yorker piece Updike wrote about Fenway Park and Ted Williams. There's a link to the story in my post, as well as my thoughts
    John Updike, Fenway Park, Ted Williams

  2. Thanks, yes, I am interested in the Updike. I'll give it a read when I have some peace and quiet. There was an Updike short story about baseball that I was assigned in HS...I can't remember much about it, though I did like it.