May 2011

Author Rating: A

Mason and Dixon (recommended, read 5/3/11)

This is not a novel for everyone. It can be difficult going because it is written in Pynchon’s imagined colloquial 18th century English. It tells the story of the lifelong partnership and adventures of English surveyors Charles Mason (1728-1786) and Jeremiah Dixon (1733-1779), starting with their attempt to reach Sumatra to observe the 1761 Transit of Venus and continuing through their work on what became known as The Mason-Dixon Line in an uncharted pre-Revolutionary America.

There is much to be learned about attitudes and events in colonial America between the covers of this book that is eye-opening, and it’s also just plain entertaining.

V. (Not yet read)

The Crying of Lot 49 (Not yet read)

Gravity’s Rainbow (Not yet read)

Slow Learner (collection of early short stories) (Not yet read)

Vineland (Not yet read)

Against the Day (Not yet read)

Inherent Vice (Not yet read)


Author Rating: A

Tell Me a Riddle (read 1981)

I was totally blown away when I read this collection of four short stories as part of a women writers course. It is unfortunate that Olsen never had the leisure to complete her novel Yonnondio, published posthumously by her husband Jack, but she was a busy person who spent her life encouraging other writers and fighting for workers’ rights.

Author Rating: A

I read My Ántonia, “the novel Cather herself considered her finest achievement,” back in 1981 as part of a women writers course and absolutely loved it. I don’t know how it is that I never read another of her novels but I plan to remedy that this summer.

Cather’s first novel, Alexander’s Bridge, was published in 1912, her last novel, Sapphira and the Slave Gir, was published in 1940, two years before she died at age 73. The Wikipedia page for Cather is quite good.

Alexander’s Bridge (not yet read)

The Prairie Trilogy:

  • O Pioneers! (not yet read)
  • The Song of the Lark (not yet read)
  • My Ántonia (read 1981)

One of Ours (not yet read)

A Lost Lady (not yet read)

The Professor’s House (not yet read)

My Mortal Enemy (not yet read)

Death Comes for the Archbishop (not yet read)

Shadows on the Rock (not yet read)

Lucy Gayheart (not yet read)

Sapphira and the Slave Girl (not yet read)