Currently vying for space in front of my eyes is 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. I hope, before I finish it, to know how to pronounce the title properly. I wish I knew Japanese…
Image by 铁蛋骑士 via Flickr
Moments after the butterfly left, Murakami came down the stairs and sat, quietly, at his dining-room table. I told him I had just seen the weirdest butterfly I had ever seen in my entire life. He took a drink from his plastic water bottle, then looked up at me. “There are many butterflies in Japan,” he said. “It is not strange to see a butterfly.”
I don’t know why I have left it to my advanced stage in life to discover Galsworthy and his attendant Forsyte Saga, but there it is — chief right now among that near-infinite gathering of things I should have done long ago. But at least I have started the saga: three volumes, three books per. They go fast.
We start at the beginning with a collection of the Forsyte family at a party to celebrate the engagement of one of its youngest members, June, to a penniless architect of whom nobody in the family knows anything. The ten siblings, none under 70, who make up the senior layer of the clan are introduced. The rest of the first book’s actions follow two of the clan: Soames, who succumbs to jealousy of his wife’s attentions, and Jolyon Sr. who attempts reconciliation with a son whom he had disowned years before. Galsworthy does not bog down these books with the heaps of atmosphere and description that can slow me down when I read Dickens, but I still have to pause in the reading of it every once in a while and revive myself: too much of this book reminds me of my own family members (many of them, at least). I keep a couple of other novels handy in which to escape from my escape into Galsworthy.
Right now, one of them is The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. It was preceded by Tea Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife which just came out two weeks ago and is very wonderful.
In Hungary, winters can be long (so I’m assuming). Before television, intelligent Hungarians tried many different pastimes to make it through those dark days. One of these, János Bolyai, resorted to non-Euclidean geometry.
Bolyai wasn’t warning his son off gambling, or poetry, or a poorly chosen love affair. He was trying to keep him away from non-Euclidean geometry.