May 22, 2012
In this episode of the Books on the Nightstand books podcast, we talk about historical fiction and how it is defined. Also, William Faulkner, Julian Barnes, and The Homemade Pantry.
A little update on our Faulkner project. Both Michael and I are attempting to read (or re-read) a William Faulkner novel in anticipation of Booktopia:Oxford. But since 2012 is the 50th anniversary of the death of Faulkner, we're going to enlist you all in our Faulkner project.
I started listening to the audiobook of The Sound and the Fury, read by Grover Gardner. I loved the poetry in the language, and loved Grover's reading. But then I discovered (from Oprah's How to Read Faulkner) that the text uses italics to indicate shifts in time. I could not hear italics in the audiobook. So now my new plan is to listen to the audio as I read along.
Michael started As I Lay Dying and is loving it.
Please join us in our Faulkner read-along on the Books on the Nightstand Goodreads group. If our happiness isn't enough of an incentive, you should know that July 6th is Faulkner Remembrance Day at Square Books, marking the 50th anniversary of his death. The next day is the 39th annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference. So even if you can't make it to Oxford for Booktopia, you may want to make one of these special events.
The Guardian has created a list of The 10 Best Historical Novels, as chosen by William Skidelsky. As you can imagine, this has created a bit of controversy. As we looked through it, we were struck by some of the books that they considered "historical." Michael and I both immediately thought of Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth (which did not make the list), which is more epic in scope than some of the books on the Guardian list. Some of those books deal with a small period of time in history. The Walter Scott Prize defines a historical novel as being set at least 60 years prior to its publication.
There are many comments on the Guardian post that added a significant number of books to my reading list, and some of the comments are just entertaining in themselves. My favorite comment is here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/16102805.
So we want to hear from you: How do you define a historical novel? And what are some of your favorites?
Michael tells us about a cookbook, which he hasn't yet cooked from. He did, however, read The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila. The focus is on making food at home instead of buying the processed versions at the store. There are recipes for yogurt, pickles, cheeses, even homemade Pop-Tarts, and each recipe is accompanied by an essay about that particular product. Michael also announces the relaunch of Cookbooks on the Nightstand as a Tumblr site. Michael hopes to blog there at least twice a week, and may include some guest posts.
I use this segment to rectify an oversight: despite the fact that I love The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, I've never actually fully talked about it on the podcast, but since it is coming out in paperback on May 29th, I couldn't miss the opportunity to tell you about it today. It's one of the only books I've re-read, and it may become on of my top ten books ever. The first part of the novel reads like a coming of age story, with Tony as a young man navigating friendships and romantic relationships. The second half is Tony as a middle-aged man, amicably divorced and looking back on his past as he tries to understand a mysterious letter that he's received. But the real beauty of this book to me is Julian Barnes' philosophical insights and musings. Several Books on the Nightstand listeners have read this, and there is a discussion thread on the Goodreads group. Come join us!