31 January 2008

Booking through Thursday

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Sometimes I find eccentric characters quirky and fun, other times I find them too unbelievable and annoying. What are some of the more outrageous characters you’ve read, and how do you feel about them?

One of my favorite quirky, eccentric characters never actually appears in her eponymous novel, Swann, by Carol Shields. Mary Swann's eccentricities as a poet, and her bloody death at the hands of her brutish husband, are dissected by the literary and academic ghouls who are exhuming her life and work and preparing for the first literary symposium about her. Each of the ghouls is, him/herself, eccentric -- the soul-eater biographer, the librarian, the publisher -- and all evidence of the existence of poor Mary Swann disappears as they mince, chop, and bludgeon her work as thoroughly as her husband did her body.

By the end, nothing is left - not even the Parker 51 fountain pen that she used to write all of her poetry. The reader is left to watch as the ghouls begin to reconstruct what they deconstructed, and to ponder whether academic and scholarly scrutiny ever can reveal the essence of a true poet.

I love academic fiction, especially when it's spot-on about the politics and egos of the scholarly world --
and I would love a Parker 51 fountain pen -- (perhaps it would write poetry) -


Thomma Lyn said...

I want you to know that Swann sounded so fascinating to me that I just now hopped over to Amazon and put it on my Wish List! Thanks for a great recommendation! :)

I think you'll love The Mists of Avalon. :)

Have a wonderful Thursday!

Table Talk said...

I'd forgotten about 'Swann' thank you so much for reminding me. I must make time to go back and re-read it.

Carrie K said...

I just picked up my first Carol Shields book, but The Stone Diaries. Swann sounds good. I really wanted to read Larry's Party.

Have you seen the Austen blog?

adrienne said...

Sounds fabulous:)! I don't know who I'll show up as (it's pixie girl), because I had to get a new Gmail account and my blogs are deleted !!!

Paula said...

Oh My, Carol Shields, now there is an author I haven’t read in so many years.
I dearly loved her book 'Stone Diaries'.
LOL! Now that book is filled with some ‘quirky’ characters. Especially the Clarentine character.
I can’t wait to read ‘Swann’ now after your synopsis.
I just can’t believe there wasn’t even her fountain pen left.
(What a nice kind of pen too! Makes the marble Waterman I covet seem frivolous.)
You know cherished pens like that, used to write poetry have to hold part of that persons soul in the ink reservoir!

and...in my opinion, scholarly scrutiny can never reveal the essence of a true poet!
That would be like trying to see the faucets of a diamond while it is still in the coal!

GeraniumCat said...

Oh yes, Swann - this has been a good week for reminding me of books I want to read again because they have such wonderful characters.

sunt_lacrimae_rerum said...

I have never read SWANN but it's now on order. What a wonderful recommendation and a beautifully-written evocation of the novel.

Aunt Kathy said...

I too will have to search for this novel, it sounds so interesting.