Something magical showed up on my doorstep today: a copy of The Novel: An Alternative History (Steven Moore, The Continuum Publishing Group, 2010). This massive volume attracted my attention at the Continuum International Publishing Group booth at BEA–the cover caught my eye and the topic seemed relevant (to me at least) as an imaginative and creative way to cram in a lifetimes’ worth of understanding “the classics.” My mouth started watering (I get that way with books) and as I was preparing to steal a copy, the publicist kindly offered to send me one for review. I can’t imagine how I would have lugged it home otherwise, as it’s almost 700 pages long. THIS book is the solution I’ve been seeking to my classics reading group failures…it covers the spectrum of the history of the novel from its beginning until 1600, from Greek romances, Roman satires, medieval Sanskrit novels, to Byzantine erotic thrillers, epic Arabian adventure novels, and Icelandic sagas–the list goes on and on! And even better, this appears to be no stuffy history volume. It is variously described as “irreverent,” “funny,” and “as personal as a love affair and just as thrilling.” How could I possibly resist! The covert art designer knew exactly what he or she was doing, as well–the picture of a young unclothed girl (except for her flowing red hair) reclining on the floor reading a BOOK is sensually intellectual, reminding me of paintings one would view at a museum. Erotic, yet classy, and at once playful and daring .
As I mentioned in my “about me” introduction, I did indeed find studying literary criticism at the university to be stuffy and stifling. But The Novel, I’m hoping, will prove that the subject can be anything but.
Too much to want to read…where am I going to find the time for all these delectable morsels??? Maybe I should play hookie the next couple of weeks, lock myself in the basement with a mammoth bowl of blueberries and cherries, and while away these awful, sticky days of summer with inspiring books.
And by the way, Hawk of May has pulled me in more quickly than any book I have read in my recent past. On page 60…
*My sincere thanks go out to the the Continuum representative at BEA who kept my business card safe and remembered to send me this book in the midst of a million other things to do, I’m sure. Thank you! It will be reviewed, although I can’t give an exact date at this moment!