Olympic Russian Reading Challenge

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been lately, the answer is Twitter, that ephemeral playground of the short attention span. I haven’t forgotten about my blog, though, and I’m back with an Olympics-inspired reading challenge that came out of a discussion of Nabokov on Twitter. I tweaked the original idea and came up with this:

Olympic Russian Reading Challenge

Gold — One massive tome

Silver — One novel or short story collection

Bronze — Three short stories or plays, or a book of poetry

It isn’t necessary to complete the challenge during the Sochi Olympics, but you will get extra Degree of Difficulty points if you do. Leave a comment with your accomplishments and bring a medal home for your country!

Biodiversity of Mexico 2010

It’s down to the wire with my 2010 reading challenges and I must confess that I haven’t done very well on either of them. I blame Twitter and soccer! But there is still time to salvage something before the new year, and I started with the Species of the Mexican Bicentennial (which conveniently combines both challenges!). It is a web companion to a special 2010 wall calendar that features plants and animals that have some connection to Romerolagus diazi - Volcano rabbitMexico’s centennial and bicentennial, mainly by virtue of being named after important historical figures. Many of them are endangered, such as the adorable volcano rabbit (Romerolagus diazi). This tiny rabbit lives only on the volcanoes near Mexico City, and has been decimated by habitat destruction and attempts by farmers to eradicate them. There are two national parks in their range but even there they are not entirely safe because of lack of enforcement. Killing them anywhere is now illegal and so their numbers are rebounding slowly, but their habitat continues to shrink.

One doesn’t often think of desert plants as being endangered, but there are two endangered cacti on the calendar, including the pretty artichoke cactus (Obregonia dengrii). This plant has been over-harvested for the horticultural trade (it is a popular garden plant in arid zones) and also as a remedy for rheumatism. Obregonia dengrii - artichoke cactusIt is now protected by law both nationally and internationally, and there is hope that a proposed nature reserve will help reverse its rapid decline.

The Species of the Mexican Bicentennial is only a tiny sampling of Mexico’s biodiversity. Mexico is one of 12 “megadiverse” countries and is home to more than 10% of the world’s species, including 45% of cacti and 75% of agaves. The IUCN lists nearly 1000 vulnerable or endangered species in Mexico, and those are only the ones we know about. You don’t need to go to the Amazon to see amazing biodiversity, there is still much to discover right in our own back yard.

Species of the Mexican Bicentennial

Viva Natura – Biodiversity of Mexico

IUCN Red List

UNAM: Año Internacional de la Biodiversidad (UNAM, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, is also celebrating its centennial this year.)

CONABIO: Biodiversidad Mexicana

Species of the Mexican Bicentennial

Odyssey Readalong: Books 19–24

The Odyssey Readalong

Now that noble Odysseus has punished the suitors, let them
make their oaths of faith and friendship, and let him be king
always; and let us make them forget the death of their brothers
and sons, and let them be friends with each other, as in the time past,
and let them have prosperity and peace in abundance.

The masterful story-telling continued in the last section of the Odyssey. As with the previous 6 books I was kept on the edge of my seat the whole time. Step by step Odysseus’ plan to get revenge on the suitors comes together and is carried out successfully, though not without the necessary dramatic hiccups. All of Odysseus’ testing has sorted the goats from the sheep, so to speak, and they fall right into Odysseus’ trap, despite warnings and opportunities to save themselves. Once the doors are closed their fate is sealed and not one suitor or traitor is left standing. There is a certain amount of gore but not as much as I was expecting, and it was all cleaned up in short order (by the treacherous maidservants who were executed immediately thereafter!). I found it interesting that Odysseus cleansed his house with “fire and brimstone,” which he called “the cure of evils.” We usually think of fire and brimstone as part of the punishments of Hell, but here they are used to banish evil rather than punish it.

The final crisis is bookended nicely by encounters between Odysseus and Penelope. In their first meeting he keeps his disguise to test her, and she explains how she is caught between wanting to wait for her husband and seeing her son’s inheritance wasted away by the feasting suitors. She finally resolves to put the suitors to a trial of strength and skill, and marry the one who wins. This epic has been full of trials, with both gods and mortals testing each others’ identities and faith. Penelope tests the stranger, Odysseus in disguise, asking him about his origins and to prove that he has seen Odysseus. In the penultimate book when Odysseus finally reveals himself to her, she tests him again, fearing some kind of deception. Clearly she is a woman after his own suspicious heart, and it is no wonder she is called “circumspect” throughout the epic. Their final reunion is quite touching as they both have such great admiration and love for each other.

The character of Penelope is interesting to me because so often she is doubted and maligned, even by her own son, but over the course of the epic she is shown to be not only virtuous but also shrewd in keeping the suitors off as long as she did. Finally she displays motherly selflessness in resolving to marry one of the suitors, hateful though the prospect is to her, in order to preserve the property of her less-than-supportive son. She gets her just reward in the return of her beloved hero, the greatest of men.

Had Odysseus not returned it’s hard to say whether her plan would have succeeded. During the archery trial, the suitors admit they are afraid not of losing the chance to marry Penelope but of being seen as inferior to Odysseus, whose bow they could not string. Before being killed one of the suitors accuses another of not being interested in Penelope herself but of plotting to kill Telemachos so he could take Odysseus’ place as king. In essence, Penelope was wanted as a trophy wife, as though marrying her would automatically make the lucky suitor as great as Odysseus. It seems unlikely that Penelope could have done anything to save her son, but luckily she had Odysseus and the gods to uphold justice for her and her family.

One little touch I found interesting was how during the climactic scene of slaughter, the food that the suitors had been feasting on was scattered on the floor along with their bodies. This was repeated several times, and I think it points to the illicitness of their feasting at Odysseus’ expense. Feasting and hospitality were evidently very important to the ancient Greeks, and abusing hospitality must have been seen as a great offense, great enough to get the gods involved in setting things to rights.

The epic ends with the suitors in Hades telling their whole story to Agamemnon, Achilleus, and the other heroes there. There is an obvious connection to the underworld adventure from book 11, and it gave me the same sense of it being shoehorned in after the fact. There doesn’t seem to be much purpose to it. Perhaps it was a way to blend in a competing poem on the same story from the underworld perspective. The very last section of book 24 returns to the above-ground action but terminates rather abruptly when Athene shows her power and terrifies both Odysseus’ company and the avenging Ithakans into dropping their arms and pledging peace. There is nothing about Odysseus making the required sacrifices to placate Poseidon and the other gods, so I wonder if the original ending of the poem was lost. Not that it is out of character for the gods to swoop in and direct matters—Athene did quite a bit of that during the battle with the suitors. There is also a sense of finality in the way Laertes expresses his joy at seeing is son and grandson showing their valour, and, with Athene’s help, kills the father of the worst of the suitors. Three generations have defended their honour and the gods put an end to it there. Perhaps that is a fitting end to this revenge fantasy. Though the gods seem capricious at times, it does seem that their main concern is to uphold the right and see justice done. The quote above is what Zeus told Athene would be the “proper” end of events, and that is exactly what she brought about.

I’m sure I haven’t even begun to understand this great epic, but at least I have begun my journey with it. I will read it again, hopefully a number of times, as well as the Iliad and the other texts that go with them. I must thank Trish for initiating this readalong, and I definitely recommend The Odyssey to everyone. It is not as difficult as one might fear from an ancient work of literature, and it is certainly entertaining, with everything from swashbuckling action to tender romance. If you haven’t already, give it a try!

Previous posts: Books 1–6; Books 7–12; Books 13–18.

For more Odyssey Readalong posts, visit Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity.

The Odyssey of Homer, Richmond Lattimore trans.

Odyssey Readalong: Books 13–18

The Odyssey Readalong

Of all creatures that breathe and walk on the earth there is nothing
more helpless than a man is, of all that the earth fosters;
for he thinks that he will never suffer misfortune in future
days, while the gods grant him courage and his knees have spring
in them. But when the blessed gods bring sad days upon him,
against his will he must suffer it with enduring spirit.

I’m surprised that Odysseus has the time to turn philosophical with all that has been going on in the previous few days. The Phaiakians dump him on a deserted beach near home and he spends some time, in disguise, with his loyal and hospitable swineherd who brings him up to speed on local developments. When the swineherd asks him who he is and how he got there he has to do some quick thinking and comes up with quite an elaborate tale of woe that doesn’t quite convince his interlocutor but he gets away with it. Meanwhile, Athene gets Telemachos to come around and he finally sees his father again. Much weeping ensues, naturally. Eventually they get down to plotting the downfall of the suitors and head off, separately, for their palace. Odysseus travels as a beggar and suffers much abuse, but you can be sure he will even the score presently. Penelope gets wind of his impending return so now the whole family is more or less on the same page and are drawing the suitors into their trap. Penelope scolds the suitors for not bringing her gifts, and the bling starts pouring in from all directions, much to Odysseus’ delight. Whatever costs the suitors is fine by him. All three of them get in some pretty good speeches chastising the suitors for their uncouth behaviour and warning them of what will happen when the master of the house gets home. Naturally they scoff, but they can’t say they weren’t warned. Only one of them, Amphinomos, calls for some restraint, but I have the feeling that won’t help him much in the end. If he’s in the house he’s on the list.

I was glad to be done with all the monsters and I have to say that this section of The Odyssey had me in suspense much more than the last. With the monsters you pretty well knew it was going to end badly, but now we are in an unknown situation and it’s hard to say how it will play out. Odysseus and Telemachos have laid out some plans but how it will go down in the end is apparently in the hands of the gods. No doubt Athene will be there every step of the way as Odysseus and Telemachos go snicker-snack through the suitors.

The saddest moment had to be when Odysseus’ poor old neglected dog who he raised from a puppy recognizes him but doesn’t have the strength to greet him. After 20 years of waiting for his master he finally dies right there on a dung heap—how sad!

One thing I liked about this section was all the humble little details that provide a refreshing contrast to the more epic and magical aspects of the tale. There aren’t many of them but they really attracted my attention. For example, Telemachos woke up Peisistratos “stirring him with a nudge of his heel,” after which he “made haste to slip the shimmering tunic over his skin.” I liked how it is said of the chariot horses that “All day long they shook the yoke they wore on their shoulders.” At one point Athene “nodded to him with her brows,” and later Penelope “rubbed her cheeks with both her hands.” These are not important remarks but the rarity of such descriptions makes them stand out to me.

Another thing that stands out in this section is the augury. During the sea voyage it was the gods who warned Odysseus of future perils, but now it is the birds who portend what is to come. Luckily there always seems to be someone by who can interpret the signs. They have pretty much the same message for Odysseus, Telemachos, and Penelope: woe to the suitors!

One of the major themes here, as with the travels (among humans) of Odysseus and Telemachos, is hospitality. In this case it is hospitality towards beggars, and almost everyone fails in this regard except for Eumaios the swineherd. Odysseus chides Eurymachos, the most prominent and dastardly of the suitors, for being so stingy that he won’t even share food that isn’t his. One of Odysseus’ own serving girls, who happens to be Eurymachos’ girlfriend, is rude to him as well and gets some sharp words in return. Even the most famous local beggar lords it over Odysseus, and gets a broken jaw for his trouble. Just about everyone is getting on to Odysseus’ naughty list, and I have the feeling that the last 6 books are going to get pretty messy.

Other posts: Books 1–6; Books 7–12; Books 19–24.

Read more Odyssey Readalong posts at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity.

Odyssey Readalong: Books 7–12

The Odyssey Readalong

That was the most pitiful scene that these eyes have looked on in my sufferings as I explored the routes over the water.

This part of the Odyssey is thick with gods and monsters, and I am starting to see why Odysseus can’t stop crying. Nowadays we’d say he has post-traumatic stress disorder, and with good reason. First he loses a large number of men in a foolish battle with the Kikonians, then he sees several of his friends eaten by Polyphemos the cyclops, and giants sink all of the ships but his. As if that’s not enough grief, the “evil monster” Skylla eats a few more of his friends (see quote above), and finally the rest are finished off at sea by Zeus’ thunderbolt. Oh, there was also the little matter of being surrounded by the hordes of the dead in Hades. Even the best of us would need some counselling after all that.

Of course it’s not all bad, what with beautiful goddesses throwing themselves at him and plenty of feasting. In the palace of Alkinoös he is entertained by the blind bard Demodokos, who I gather is thought to be a portrait of Homer himself. Many complimentary things are said about the singers of stories by the way.

For with all people upon the earth singers are entitled
to be cherished and to their share of respect, since the Muse has taught them
her own way, and since she loves all the company of singers.

Of course we cannot say who really composed that or any part of this epic. I haven’t made a close study of it but it seems that this section of the story has a different style than the first five or six books. There is more adventure, less psychology, and more mystery about the gods. Several times Odysseus says that a god did such and such but does not specify which. Perhaps that is just a manner of speaking but in the earlier books the gods (mostly Athene) are named when they act. And where is Athene? She does not seem to be a part of this story at all. I get the impression that the story of Odysseus’ perilous voyage originated separately from the more human story of Penelope and the suitors, and the two were grafted together, without a great deal of editing. The episode in Hades also seems like an add-on, and it’s hardly necessary since Circe gives much more detailed advice on the voyage home than Teiresias of Thebes did. However Teiresias does warn Odysseus about potential troubles back home, so perhaps the episode is essential for knitting the two tales together.

I must say I’m looking forward to more of the Penelope-Telemachos story and getting on with Odysseus’ homecoming. I don’t think Odysseus can take much more from gods and monsters!

Other posts: Books 1–6; Books 13–18; Books 19–24.

Find links to other Odyssey Readalong posts at Love, Laughter, and Insanity.

Odyssey Readalong: Books 1–6

The Odyssey Readalong

I could not tell you all the number nor could I name them,
all that make up the exploits of enduring Odysseus…

This my first time reading The Odyssey, and right away I was impressed with how polished it is. This is as finely-crafted story-telling as I’ve ever read, and that’s without being able to read the Greek and appreciate the poetry. The way characters are introduced and scenarios set up is so fluid and yet so well-structured. Never is one left at a loose end, though there is the occasional contradiction, such as how the Achaians made it home when the gods were out to destroy them. Still, the main story moves along as smoothly as the wine-dark sea . . . when Poseidon is busy elsewhere!

The story starts with the scandalous suitors of Penelope, who sponge off Odysseus’ household and pressure his grieving wife to marry one of them without going through proper channels (i.e. by presenting gifts to her father). They want to get her for free, and are quite happy to feast at her husband’s expense until they break her down. They say she encourages them but I suspect that is a self-justifying lie of the “she was asking for it” variety. At the very least she has the loyalty and decency to wait until she has definite news of Odysseus’ fate. It’s to get that news that their son Telemachos sails off, and whenever he tells the story of the suitors, gods and mortals alike are angered and make dire predictions about what will happen when Odysseus gets back. He finally finds out where Odysseus fetched up, and the scene shifts to the island where the nymph Kalypso has Odysseus captive as her own personal boy toy. I had to laugh when the gods asked for him back and she pouts saying it was the gods who shipwrecked him in the first place and she’s the one who rescued him. Finders keepers! But Odysseus is homesick and has some justice to dispense back home (though he doesn’t know it yet), so he must be on his way. Unfortunately he is out of the frying pan and into the fire because the next woman he encounters, Nausikaa of the Phaiakians, takes a fancy to him and I don’t think she will let him out of her clutches too easily either.

But when he had bathed all, and anointed himself with olive oil,
and put on the clothing this unwedded girl had given him,
then Athene, daughter of Zeus, made him seem taller
for the eye to behold, and thicker, and on his head she arranged
the curling locks that hung down like hyacinthine petals.
And as when a master craftsman overlays gold on silver,
and he is one who was taught by Hephaistos and Pallas Athene
in art complete, and grace is on every work he finishes,
so Athene gilded with grace his head and his shoulders,
and he went a little aside and sat by himself on the seashore,
radiant in grace and good looks; and the girl admired him.

Can you blame her? Apart from his physical charms, Odysseus is known for his thoughtfulness, cunning, and patience. He is often described as god-like and praised for his use of reason. At various points were are let into his thought process as he considers various options and chooses the best one. Though Homer far precedes the great Greek philosophers that we know of, it seems that even in his time logic and reason were highly valued and ranked as god-like qualities. Nausikaa may have admired Odysseus’ looks on the beach, but she also notices how thoughtful he is. Brains and beauty, a lethal combination! Trouble is sure to ensue…

Other posts: Books 7–12; Books 13–18; Books 19–24.

Check out more Odyssey Readalong posts at Love, Laughter, and Insanity.

The Odyssey of Homer, Richmond Lattimore trans.

Odyssey Readalong

The Odyssey Readalong

A Novel Challenge recently posted a notice about an Odyssey readalong taking place in the month of November. Despite the fact that my current reading challenges are in critical condition, and that I haven’t read the Iliad yet, this challenge is too tasty to pass up. The Odyssey Readalong is being hosted by Trish at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity, and has so far attracted 14 hardy souls to join Odysseus in his journey through Siren-infested waters and Cyclops-ridden lands. I like that it’s a small group—with some of the larger challenges it’s simply impossible to visit all the posts and it’s too easy to just stick to familiar blogs. This will be more life-raft than cruise ship, so we should be able to get to know each other by month’s end. The reading pace seems reasonable, and it will be a nice way to get in one last serious reading binge before the Christmas craziness sets in.

I still haven’t decided which edition to read. Trish has tantalizingly suggested trying an audio version. I have two audio options at the library, Fagles and Rouse.  From what I’ve read elsewhere, I suspect the Fagles version might be too casual for my liking, though it certainly gets lots of rave reviews. I understand that the Rouse is prosified and easy to follow, but I think I’d rather have it in verse. In print I have Lattimore and my lovely little Loeb Classical Library edition (Murray and Dimock). I should probably go with the Lattimore since the Loeb translation is intended more as an aid to reading the original Greek (which is on the verso pages) than an aesthetic rendering in English.

There’s still time to head down to your favourite bookstore or library and grab a copy for yourself before the challenge starts on Monday. Who’s in?

Chronicle of a Readathon

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon9:20 a.m.

I was wakened a little earlier than I would have liked, as I often am, by the thunder of little feet overhead. After a certain amount of tossing and turning and thinking that we should have another look at the concept of children being seen and not heard, I finally gave up on getting back to sleep and decided to get my Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon underway. My Zune is all charged up and I’ve got 2666 ready to go. I also have a print copy of 2666 from the library so I can keep track of what page I’m on. I’m starting on page 648; 245 pages and 10 hours to go…

9:35 a.m.

Silly me, I should have checked the comments on my last post before getting started. Thank you to all the wonderful cheerleaders for your encouraging comments today!

12:10 p.m.
Book: 2666 (audio)
Pages read: 37
Time spent reading: 1:28

Choosing an audiobook for this readathon has been very convenient. I’ve been able to “read” while exercising, cooking, and doing a bit of housework. It also makes it easy to calculate time spend reading since the Zune displays the time elapsed and time left for each section of the audiobook. My only breaks so far have been to shower and blog. I’m quite enjoying (if that’s the right word) the story of Hans Reiter in 2666, though I now recall that the last section of the book deals with the Holocaust, so I expect it is going to get ugly pretty soon. Already Hitler has taken over most of Europe, and Reiter now finds himself at Dracula’s castle (cue ominous music). I think I’ll have a boo at Twitter and then get back to my “reading.”

2:20 p.m.
Book: 2666 (audio)
Pages read: 32 (69 total)
Time spent reading: 1:18 (2:46 total)

I’m amazed at the page counts of some other readathoners, but then the hard core have been at this for ten hours already. I feel like I’m just getting started. I’m really enjoying being immersed in 2666. After introducing the first hint of the Holocaust Bolaño has swerved off into a sub-plot involving an idealistic young Jewish Communist and some world-weary Soviet writers. The descriptions of war in the book so far remind me very much of the confusion and absurdity in War and Peace. Where Prince Andrei has his blue sky to escape to, Hans Reiter has the kelp forest at the bottom of the sea—an intriguing mirror image.

It’s time for a little snack, and then back to 2666!

5:05 p.m.
Book: still 2666 (audio)
Pages read: 40 (109 total)
Time spent reading: 1:42 (4:28 total)

After much to do with writers, we are now back to the war and a minor German official who has been sent 500 “Greek” Jews (no one is sure where they came from), and he doesn’t know what to do with them, nor does he much care, having lost interest in the war effort. Hmm… As for me, I’ve been watching rain showers come and go but now it’s starting to get dark. To think this is only the half way mark for the people who are doing the full 24 hour readathon! I have to admit I am getting a little tired of the flashback subplots in 2666, so it is probably time to switch to something else for a while. But first, I must see what’s happening at readathon central and on Twitter!

7:10 p.m.

I’ve taken a break from reading and had a surf around to see if I could find any readathoners devoted to the classics. I didn’t go through the whole list of participants (there are 447 of them!) but I clicked on likely-looking names and eventually found the wonderful blog of Allie at A Literary Odyssey. While waiting for Michigan demographics to catch up with her desire to be an educator, she has set herself a challenge to read 250 classics. She’s already knocked 61 titles off her list and looks good to go the distance. Way to go Allie!

Now back to the books…

8:50 p.m.
Book: Dictionnaire culturel en langue française
Words looked up in French/English dictionary: 22 (I’m not exactly fluent in French!)
Pages read: 2 (see above) (111 total)
Time spent reading: :36 (5:04 total)

I’ve been reading the preface to the Dictionnaire culturel which lays out the problems with existing dictionaries and the intent of this one. It draws some inspiration from the famous Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers of Diderot and d’Alembert. I especially love what it says about how the words we use are part of a chain of cultural creation and they cannot be understood outside of culture. To extract them from their context is to imprison them. The chief editor, Alain Rey, saves the harshest criticism for encyclopedic dictionaries, calling them “petits monstres savants” (little learned monsters or clever little monsters). Ouch. That didn’t stop him from publishing his own encyclopedic dictionary, the Dixel, but I’m sure he took a less monstrous approach. For the Dictionnaire culturel he says he preferred to collect questions rather than answers, and human thoughts and creations rather than supposedly pre-existing facts.

There’s still a lot more preface to go but I think I will stop while my brain feels pleasantly exercised but not completely exhausted. After a little popcorn and football I’ll head off to bed with 2666 again and listen until I’m too sleepy to follow it any more. I’ll have to leave my final readathon tally until the morning, but I don’t expect it to be much greater than it is now. I am pleased with how much “reading” (mostly listening) I did today, but also a little dismayed at how little it amounted to in terms of pages. Of course I was limited by the speed of the audiobook narration, but that sort of book, the kind I usually read, simply takes more time to read and to digest, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d rather read 10 pages of 2666, or one page of the Dictionnaire culturel, than a hundred pages of a fluffy bestseller. I honestly find these weighty tomes more enjoyable precisely because they are weighty, because they deal with serious matters in a serious way, and are heavy with meaning and emotion and beauty. They are more than worth the time spent reading them.

Sunday wrap

When I went to bed I opted for a bit of Wodehouse instead of more 2666, and I can’t tell how many pages I listened to so I’ll just leave the tally as it stood last night. I’m pleased with my first readathon, or half-readathon, and I’d be happy to do it again. I think next time I’ll do what Allie did and choose a few short classics to read rather than one giant tome. I’ve been meaning to read Candide again, and some Shakespeare plays would work nicely. I think I might throw in some Spanish as well as French to liven things up. Listening to an audiobook was a great way to keep “reading” while performing the necessities of life. I will definitely keep that in the mix next time. Here’s the official End of Event Meme:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? About hour 8 (for me) when the sun went down I started to lose interest in my book. That was a good time to surf around the readathonverse and switch to something completely different.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Um, the dictionary? Or the encyclopedia. But I think that’s just me…

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? How about an official half-readathon, for example 9am to 9pm based on the reader’s own time zone? It wouldn’t have to be as elaborate as the 24 hour readathon, with minichallenges and all that, but an official gathering place would be nice.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? It’s hard for me to say since it’s my first, but I appreciated the hourly posts; there was always something new to look at. The cheerleaders were great too.

5. How many books did you read? I read two but finished neither. Next time: shorter books!

6. What were the names of the books you read? 2666 and Dictionnaire culturel en langue française. Really.

7. Which book did you enjoy most? I enjoyed them both very much.

8. Which did you enjoy least? N/A

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? N/A

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Very likely. Next time I’ll be a reader and I think I’ll host a mini-challenge to gather all the classics readers together. I want to know where they are!

Ready for the Readathon

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-ThonAfter spotting some tweets about Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon I’ve decided to give it a try. This is my first readathon, so I’m not really sure what to expect. It starts tomorrow at 5 a.m. my time, but as I have a dysfunctional brain (thanks to CFS), I will take the humane option and just read for as many waking hours as I comfortably can. This is supposed to be fun, after all.

My main goal is to finish, or at least make significant progress in, the audio version of 2666. I am half way through part 29 of 38, which means I have about 10 hours to go. I’m not sure if it’s safe to read (hear) that much Bolaño in one day, but I believe I’m past the dead bodies now and I hope the rest won’t be too horrifying. For breaks I plan to dabble in my spectacular new Dictionnaire culturel en langue française. This may cause gushing blog posts to appear here. If I need to switch to something totally different, I’ve got my long-neglected Don Quixote on standby. Finally, in case of emergency, I have a spot of Wodehouse available to cool off the brain.

Readathon book (& Zune) stack

I’m not sure what the convention is for blog updates during these readathons. Do people write one post and add to it as they go along, or publish new updates on a regular basis? I guess I will find out in the morning. No doubt there will be much tweeting as well. It looks like it could be a lot of fun. Anyone care to join?