Derik Badman's Journal

2023-02-23 17:18

Finished up Lucy Ives' Life is Everywhere last night with mixed feelings. While the novel isn't exactly a frame tale filled with... oh no I'm blanking on the term Genette uses for it... intra... narrative... tales... Bleah... Anyway it's not like a brief frame and then stories, but a third or more of the book is taken up by texts that exist within the overarching narrative that the book starts and ends in, especially a large central section that consists of a novella and (short) novel written by the protagonist and a critical study (short) written by one of her professors (the protagonist is a lit student at Columbia, iirc). It's a rare thing for the frame to be more interesting than what is framed, but in this case I was very enthused about the book based on the first 100 pages, but then I hit all these embedded texts and they weren't as well written or as interesting or as dryly funny. The books picks up again with the last ~100 pages when it returns to the protagonist. That section also has some embedded narrative texts but they are shorter and, I think, more interesting. Part of the issue is that I'm not convinced the protagonist's writing was supposed to be good and the professor's definitely wasn't. That's a dangerous move to make in a novel and I think it's where Ives didn't succeed. That said, I really enjoyed the ~200 pages that weren't embedded texts and will look for subsequent work from her.

I've been slowly making my way through all my movie/tv watch lists on various services we subscribe to with an eye towards cancelling some so we can shift around what we have. Even my Criterion Channel list is under 20 and a lot of those are movies I just want to rewatch at some point. Similarly my book lists (amazon, bookshop, the library) have been getting smaller and smaller. I was going to try to reread more books this year (like how I read a lot of super long novels last year) though that's failing a bit since I picked up so many books recently. We were in Doylestown and I picked up a few things at the used bookstore that I had been wanting to read: Zola's The Ladies Paradise, Flaubert's Salammbo, Pynchon's Inherent Vice, and a great find a first edition of Joanna Russ' Extraordinary People. So much of her stuff is not in print, it was exciting to find this one (which includes a story I read for Delany's sci-fi class years ago), the woman at the bookstore even commented about how long it had been on the shelf cause no one knew who Russ was.