Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Book: Grub, by Elise Blackwell (2007)

It’s funny to realize how few novels I’ve read about novelists. You always hear that there are too many books about literary life. No doubt this is true. But unless the protagonists are accused of murder or battling vampires, odds are I’m not going to pick those titles up.

Grub, however, may have changed my mind. Elise Blackwell’s novel is an elaborate contemporary re-imagining of New Grub Street, the 1891 satire of the London publishing world by George Gissing. I’m not familiar with Gissing’s book, but I have read the Wikipedia entry, which qualifies me as an authority.

Aside from moving the action to New York, Blackwell apparently hasn’t changed much. Nor does she have to; ambition, jealousy and fear are constants in the writer’s lot. She smartly updates the Victorian conventions of Gissing’s novel. More impressively, she recreates the feel of reading one of the books of that period, with its rich stew of characters and incident. Success, failure, romance, secret identities, and endings that come in degrees of happiness. There’s something for everyone. Lovely stuff.

Sports: The Road to Recovery

The Phillies, who outlasted my New York Mets, are already out of the post-season. The Yankees also made an early exit. Which means I can just sit back and enjoy the rest of the baseball playoffs.

I have moved on from the Mets’ late-season collapse with the aid of mental health professionals. The other day I even wore my Mets cap in public again.

Complete Stranger in Supermarket: I haven’t been brave enough to put mine on yet.

Me: You gotta man up, son. Next year starts right now.

Complete Stranger in Supermarket: You’ve inspired me.

Sadly, that exchange is the supreme accomplishment of my life so far.