Reality Check: The December Challenge

on Thursday, December 2, 2010
Forgive me Fyodor, for I have sinned. When I made my new year's resolution to write a literary blog I intended from the outset to quirk it up with absurd challenges that took me out of my reading comfort zone into new, mostly humorous, territory. I started off quite well but, alas, the best of intentions have fallen by the wayside, victim to my penchant for self-indulgence. I wanted to read books I liked. Shoot me.

It's now December and I figure I have but one last chance for redemption. I must tackle the thing I dislike reading more than anything else (except perhaps the crap I had to read for February's Books I Swore I'd Never Read challenge). Yes, in a last ditch attempt to save me from having to admit defeat come December 31, and consequently forcing myself to repeat this whole shebang again next year, I intend to spend a month reading non-fiction. To be fair, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I have built up a respectable pile of mildly interesting looking tomes of truth over the past few years. The fact I get to finally open them, and knock them all over in one month, makes the whole task seem almost bearable.

I know I might be accused of bandwagon-jumping, but I'm starting off with Patti Smith's National Book Award winning memoir, Just Kids and will follow it with Elif Batuman's examination of Russian bibliophiles (that is, people who love and obsess over Russian literature, not just anyone from Russia who can read), Possessed. I figure, with those two, I at least have a connection, spurious as it may be: early punk rock and wanky literature are two of my great areas of interest. Next up I'm going to hit something I've meant to read for years, Jerzy Ficowski's biography of and meditation on the criminally under-appreciated Polish writer Bruno Schulz, Regions of The Great Heresy. If the name doesn't ring a bell, wait for Jonathan Safran Foer's next book. I suspect you will find yourself chasing down copies of his two amazing story collections, Street of Crocodiles and Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, before you can say Drohobycz. I'll also give my high school obsession with true crime another run with The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi. Comic relief shall be provided by Keith Richards and his anti-Jagger bitchfest, Life. And, finally, I'll round out the month with two memoirs by great authors, Gunter Grass and Chinua Achebe.

Now I know what you're thinking. This all sounds a bit too easy for the very last challenge of the year. Don't worry, spanner, meet works. I am going to attempt to review them all in six line verses of rhyming couplets. I don't even really know what that means. Oh, well, I guess it could have been worse. There was always the chance I'd be lumped with haiku again.


Anonymous said...

Hey Bram..
I also dont really do N-F unless forced, but currently reading and loving Chloe Hooper's The Tall Man (on Cameron Doomadgee's death in custody on Palm Island). Been meaning to get to it for ages, and if you haven't read it I advocate adding it to the list..
(And in a literary aside - I adored Finkler!)
Hope all's well with you and Debs..
Den Lankri

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