Derik Badman's Journal

2020-03-31 11:58

My reading has felt bogged down a bit lately. I'm switching between the book about sentences and style and the annotated Walden. The former is just not something you can read a lot at once. As for the latter, I am more confirmed in my thinking that I much prefer the Thoreau of his journals than the Thoreau of his published writing. He is most interesting when writing of his observations both of nature and society, and you get that plenty in his journals, while in the published writing, which is seemingly mostly taken from his journals, those observations are formalized and lengthened and organized in a way that I just end up finding slow and ponderous. I'm going to try to finish it up, as I am nearing the end, but from here on in, I will read the journals instead (the New York Review of Books edition is excellent).

As a change of pace, last night I started reading A Short History of Fantasy by Farah Mendlesohn and Edward James. It is primarily about fantasy literature, but occasionally addresses other media. I thought since I started writing some fantasy, I'd try to see what gaps I can fill in on my knowledge of it as a genre. I'm also interested to see if I can find arguments for or against my thought that fantasy as a genre is for the most part very conservative, especially formalistically/stylistically. And if I am wrong what other authors/books I can look to besides the ones I already know (Wolfe, Delany, Le Guin).

The effects of this pandemic and, moreso at this point, the economic effects of the social distancing and shutdowns is starting to reach into my circle of acquaintances. I only know one person so far who is sick (a work colleague), but a few people now are out of work, or on reduced work, with all that that does/will entail. At first, because of my immediate/close social circle, the effects were more about social isolation or adjusting to new work methods and routines, but inevitably that would start changing. I feel fairly powerless to do much at this point other than just keep on social distancing, and be ready to help people who need it.