Just this afternoon I finally finished a nonfiction cinderblock called A Consumer's Republic. It was smashingly astute, it should be required reading for Americans (or pretty much anyone brought up or embedded in a consumer culture), and you can look forward to lengthy excerpts posted here sometime next month.
But after reading nothing but nonfiction, poetry, and short story collections for four months, I'm feeling spiritually anemic. It is time I read a novel. A good novel.
It is time I read another Melville novel.
The top-rated Amazon review reads:
Pierre is perhaps the strangest novel of all time: bizarre, to say the least, but brilliant in its extravagence. At a minimum, it is one of Melville's central novels that deconstructs the entire myth of pre-war American society in its explorations of incest, patricide and psychosis. It is almost inconceivable that Melville really believed that it would be popular (which he did), for it shows the impossibility of writing as an American author, the impossibility of originality, and the impossibility of self-reliance. Beware: it is not for the faint of heart. It is demanding, relentlessly challenging, and very rewarding.
Some months ago, a reader suggested I use this blog to pull together a reading group. Today the call goes out: who wants to read Pierre with me?
We can determine procedures and schedules later on. (We might also have to make sure we're all reading the same version -- apparently Melville adding a bunch of padding at the demands of his publishers, which some subsequent editors have removed from the text.) For now I'm just trying to gauge interest. Post a comment if you think this might be something you're willing to do!