Sunday, July 02, 2017

Travel reading

The amount I read for pleasure on my travels was reduced by my also needing to read papers that were being presented, while also polishing my presentations and working on my literature book. But, during the Mexico City and Oxford trips, I did get to read most of (1) Chimamanda Adichie's Americanah, and (2) Henry Blake Fuller's With the Procession.

In Americanah, it's a bit depressing from the perspective of 2017 to read about the characters' response to Obama's election and inauguration. But it's a really excellent work of both narrative fiction and sociology. A friend suggested that I consider it for my literature book, in which I'm not absolutely set on all of my current-era choices. But while it deals with class, and while I ought to deal with U.S. race-class interactions at some point, I don't see it as sufficiently directed at my particular interests in the book (as distinct from, as an American living in our society today).

With the Procession was published by Fuller in 1894 and is set in Gilded Age Chicago. I had decided, after initial inquiry well short of a full read, not to include it among my 3 U.S. Gilded Age chapters (which will deal in turn with Twain & Warner's The Gilded Age, Dreiser's The Financier and The Titan, and Wharton's House of Mirth). But it's sharply satiric and quite good, and certainly makes the list of the next 3 that I would have done from this era if I were spending more chapters on it (the others being William Dean Howells' The Rise of Silas Lapham, which I like but don't love, and Booth Tarkington's quite interesting The Magnificent Ambersons).

For those who might be interested, With the Procession is available as a free Kindle download from Amazon, although for some reason it can be hard to find in this format on their website.

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