Yes, this is the month I decided to re-attack Joseph McElroy’s oversized and complex novel, Women and Men. Given the recent collapse of my dedication to reading caused by Netflix serials and the sad state of my eyes for reading, this will be a monumental task that may reduce my completed reading accomplishments this month to less-than one book. At the very least I will live with the pain of holding this tome while I’m reading.
But I’m optimistic enough to actually have created a standard size reading pool of 25 novels I might read over the next few weeks. Then again, there’s still a few years of Shameless and House of Cards waiting for me on Netflix, not to mention a good half-dozen Japanese slasher movies for my late-night enjoyment (how do they attach those chain-saws to replace their missing limbs?).
Since I might not conquer the list this month, I suspect I’ll see most of it returning in July. Then again, that assumes that I’m not still reading McElroy.
Reading Pool for June 2015
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Have you read Women and Men by Joseph McElroy? I have tried twice, the second time was a buddy read that should have given me the encouragement and the discussion I needed to make it through all 1192 oversized and densely printed pages. McEloy’s other novels, although slightly shorter, were also difficult, demanding reads and I got through those (well, I still have one or two to go). What is it about McElroy’s Women and Men in particular that results in so many readers abandoning his fiction.
Here is what is printed on the back cover of Women and Men:
Beginning in childbirth and entered like a multiple dwelling in motion, Women and Men embraces and anatomizes the 1970s in New York—from experiments in the chaotic relations between the sexes to the flux of the city itself. Yet through an intricate overlay of scenes, voices, fact, and myth, this expanding fiction finds its way also across continents and into earlier and future times and indeed the Earshot reveal connections between the most disparate lives and systems of feeling and power. At its breathing heart, it plots the fugue like and fiendlike densities of late-twentieth century life.
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America’s best least-known author is arguably Joseph McElroy. I place him right behind William Gaddis and ahead of almost everyone else who has written fiction in the last fifty years or so. Well, I might just challenge this assertion myself—there is Rikki Ducornet, Kathy Acker, and William Burroughs—but I was only considering those more conventional authors such as Pynchon, Salinger, Roth, Updike, … Barth. They’re all good but McElroy is great.
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