Wednesday, 2 December 2009

I Take This Book

I am attending a wedding this weekend and I have some wedding-themed literature lined up to read. I'll probably only manage to read one of the following but I thought I would share the ones that I have in mind. Do you like to theme your reading around things you are doing or places you are going? It isn't something that I do frequently but I thought it would be fun and weddings make me happy.

The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers: With delicacy of perception and memory, humour and pathos, Carson McCullers spreads before us the three phases of a weekend crisis in the life of a motherless twelve-year-old girl. Within the span of a few hours, the irresistible, hoydenish Frankie passionately plays out her fantasies at her elder brother's wedding. Through a perilous skylight we look into the mind of a child torn between her yearning to belong and the urge to run away.

Cassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker: Cassandra Edwards is a graduate student at Berkeley: gay, brilliant, nerve-wracked, miserable. At the beginning of this novel, she drives back to her family ranch in the foothills of the Sierras to attend the wedding of her identical twin, Judith, to a nice young doctor from Connecticut. Cassandra, however, is hell-bent on sabotaging the wedding.
Dorothy Baker's entrancing tragicomic novella follows an unpredictable course of events in which her heroine appears variously as conniving, self-aware, pitiful, frenzied, absurd, and heartbroken—at once utterly impossible and tremendously sympathetic. Cassandra reckons with her complicated feelings about the sister who she feels owes it to her to be her alter ego; with her father, a brandy-soaked retired professor of philosophy; and with the ghost of her dead mother, as she struggles to come to terms with the only life she has.
First published in 1962, Cassandra at the Wedding is a book of enduring freshness, insight, and verve. Like the fiction of Jeffrey Eugenides and Jhumpa Lahiri, it is the work of a master stylist with a profound understanding of the complexities of the heart and mind.

The Wedding by Dorothy West: Set on the Elysian isle of Martha's Vineyardm among an insular community of proud and prosperous black families, Dorothy West's first novel for nearly fifteen years centres around the marriage of Shelby Coles, daughter of the community's foremost family to a struggling white jazz musician. Not just the story of one wedding, but of many, this thought-provoking and deeply interesting novel offers insights into issues of race, prejudice and identity while maintaining its firm belief in the compensatory power of love.

I also have The Robber Bridegroom by Eudora Welty and The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood to hand but those are only wedding-themed in their similar titles only. I want to read all three of the books detailed above but I am leaning towards the one pictured and the one I know most about, Cassandra at the Wedding. Verity read this thematically over the summer and I have been saving it to read until I had a wedding to attend also.

Of course, it being the first weekend in December, I am also preparing a pile of Christmas reads but more on that another day...


15 comments:

verity said...

I love themed reading as you know, and you also know that I loved the two Virago books on the list! I hope you get to read one of them.

Paperback Reader said...

Verity, I hope I manage to read both of them soon but one for sure this weekend. I've started to think of destination-themed reading recently through your influence although mine all seem to be further afield than local haunts!

Steph said...

I haven't read any of the titles in your list nor am I a hugely "organized" reader, but one thing that I love to do is the armchair traveling you mention, that is reading books set in places that I am thinking of traveling. Sometimes this means literally reading travel books about particular countries/cities, but often I feel I get an even better sense of a place through fiction. I find I get most excited about visiting a place after I've read a book set there... and then I love revisiting well-loved places through fiction as well!

farmlanebooks said...

I'm going to a wedding this weekend too, but I'm not planning to read anything while I'm away.

I do enjoy themed reading though - especially when the book is set in the place I'm visiting.

I hope that you enjoy the book and the wedding.

Annabel Gaskell said...

Cassandra sounds good. I'll add this one to my wishlist. I hope the real wedding goes smoothly.

Jo said...

I'd love to be able to organisemy reading around what I'm doing but I never seem to be organised enough.

I think they all sound interesting, but The member of the Wedding sounds most appealing to me.

savidgereads said...

I havent thought about themed reading in this way before but what a good idea! I only tend to do themed reading when I go to other countries and want to either read a book set there or by an author from there.

Looking forward to hearing more about any of your choices.

Tony said...

I prefer random reading, floating wherever the literary winds (and my bookcases) choose to take me; in fact, I'm more likely to hop tangentially from book to book, my subconcious jogged more by people, places and allusions in my current book than by events in the 'real' world ;)

Paperback Reader said...

Steph, I love armchair reading! I read a book recently that was set in the Dominican Republic and it brought up another that I'm going to keep in mind in case I ever visit. I love being given a sense of a place from reading fiction set there, whether it be Japan, Australia or Africa and it intensifies my desire to visit and see for myself.

I also loved reading a part of The Elegance of the Hedgehog that was set in Cafe Angelina as I have been there! Sometimes it is lovely to be able to see a place in your mind's eye from memory rather than imagination.

Jackie, my mum commented on this post on facebook and asked whether I had time to read during the wedding itself! I'll be reading around it...

Annabel, Cassandra has me intrigued as apparently she is an unreliable narrator and I do love those!

Jo, The Member of the Wedding has been on my TBR for some time and i do hope to read it soon. I have another wedding in April though!

Simon, I think it has been Verity's influence on me as I don't recall being so much guided by themed reading before.

Tony, I subscribe to that method of reading too! I love tangentially reading on a whim and charting which book took me to another and so on. I love the freedom that type of reading allows me and a more structured approach this year has left me feeling frustrated. However, this weekend's reading is a little mini-challenge, as it were, amongst some more spontaneous choices.

StuckInABook said...

Don't forget Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey! Or have you already read that?

Paperback Reader said...

I read that earlier this year, Simon! Although I had intended to mention it in my post so thanks for bringing it up.

Jeane said...

I've read a The Member of the Wedding; the other titles you mention are all new to me.

Paperback Reader said...

Jeane, The Member of the Wedding is definitely more well-known; did you enjoy it?

Jeane said...

I did! But not nearly as much as the other Carson McCuller I've read; The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. However, Member of the Wedding is really a novella compared to Lonely Hunter, so it might just be the lack of length that makes me feel missing out.

Paperback Reader said...

Sorry for the delayed response, Jeane. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is a book I have had on my wishlist for a very long time and I would like to read both soon; so far I have only read The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, which I enjoyed.