Take a ticket and get in line

What book am I intending to read next? Well, first we have to limit this to the book I plan to start reading next. Finishing books is often a random shot in a dark room with chickens. Look at the books I am reading now (some more actively than others):  The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser, A Frolic of His Own by William Gaddis, The Great Fire of London by Jacques Roubaud, The Sleepwalkers by Hermann Broch, The Royal Family by William T. Vollmann, 60 Stories by Donald Barthelme. Fairly soon one of these will be the next book I have read, but which one? So I am limiting this intensely important quest for the next book I will read to the next book I will start reading without too much concern for those other books I am currently reading.

Conveniently I maintain a list of the books I hope to read in the near future right here on this site. It’s usually a pool of about thirty titles that furnish the eight to twelve books I read during the month. Of course this list is only a starting point and a single trip to the library or an emergency order to Amazon can introduce major changes. It’s probably reasonable to check the February list for my next book to read but March is getting very close. Here are the books on the February list that I haven’t started reading:

  • Knowledge of Hell — António Lobo Antunes
  • The Eye In the Door— Pat Barker
  • Anonymous Celebrity — Ignácio de Loyola Brandão
  • Normance — Louis-Ferdinand Céline
  • Jacques the Fatalist — Denis Diderot
  • Jesus Freaks — Andre Duza
  • Boswell: A Modern Comedy — Stanley Elkin
  • Ferdydurke — Witold Gombrowicz
  • The Finkler Question — Howard Jacobson
  • The Adventures of Sindbad — Gyula Krúdy
  • Tyrant Memory — Horatio Castellano Moya
  • Marya: A Life — Joyce Carol Oates
  • Vineland — Thomas Pynchon
  • The Rainbow Stories — William T. Vollmann
  • Black Boy — Richard Wright
  • Revolutionary Road — Richard Yates
  • Germinal — Émile Zola

Looking over this list I see a couple of titles I want to start reading:  Ferdydurke, Germinal, Normance, and Jacques the Fatalist. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to select Ferdydurke by the Polish author Witold Gombrowicz. A friend on the internet asked me about this book and suggested it was strange (she had evidently read it in a Yahoo reading group where others had similar responses); now, since I tend to revel in books that are strange (especially ones with strategic bodily fluids) I am intrigued by Ferdydurke. I have read a couple of other works by this author and, if memory serves, at least one of them received whatever passed as a gold star back then. If I read it next I can comment on it before my friend forgets that she asked me.

So the next book I will read is Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz. Although I really should have read the Zola this month …

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