Autodidact: self-taught


It’s My Face–Not My Mind

by V. L. Craven
All my life, people have taken my shyness for sullenness, snobbery, bad temper or one sort or another. “Stop looking so superior!” my father sometimes used to shout at me when i was eating, watching television, or otherwise minding my own business. But this facial cast of mine (that’s what I think it is, really, a way my mouth has of turning down at the corners, it has little to do with my actual moods) has worked as often to my favor as to my disadvantage. Months after I got to know the five of them, I found to my surprise that at the start they’d been nearly as bewildered by me as I by them. It never occurred to me that my behaviour could seem  to them anything but awkward and provincial, certainly not that it would appear as enigmatic as it in fact did; why, they eventually asked me, hadn’t I told anyone anything about myself?

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The narrator in The Secret History is the sort  of fictional character I would either adore or despise in person because we’re so much alike. That’s what makes this book one of my all time favourites. Thus far, the top five are:

1. Remembrance of Things Past by Proust – This was the first book I read that made me thankful that I could read. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t imagine life without words, but they’re typically utilitarian rather than sheer delight.
2. Bleak House by Charles Dickens – This has my absolute top hole fictional character, Lady Dedlock. Tragic and mysterious, she takes the cake. Another one that makes me fall in love with the written word.
3. The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton – I’ve only just started reading this in the past week and I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to it–more on this book in future posts. It’s basically a commonplace that’s put together in the most wonderful way using only the best words.
4. Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov – Kafkaesque  tale (though Nabokov hadn’t read The Trial ) about the last days of a man condemned to die for an offence no one will explain to him. Fantastical and delicious. And the ending rivals Matthew Lewis’ The Monk for surprise value.
5. The Secret History by Donna Tartt – I’ve read this one twice and will certainly read again. It begins with the narrator participating in a murder and only grows more compelling as the story unfolds. It’s also about a Classics clique at a private university in New England, which very much appeals to my sensibilities regarding weather–crisp, cool–and intellectualism–who wouldn’t want to be part of that little group?

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