Sunday, November 30, 2008
An Invitation to Ring in the Holidays with “The Chimes”
It’s that time of year again--you know, the time for “paying bills without money,” for “finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer,” and, of course, for re-reading A Christmas Carol. But wait: we all know (or think we know) A Christmas Carol. What about Dickens’s other Christmas stories? I’ve actually never read them, and I’d like to. I thought I’d start with “The Chimes,” which is short and appears, promisingly, to involve goblins. It’s easily available in electronic editions (here and here, for instance); some contextual information and the illustrations are available here. What about a miniature version of the Adam Bede project we did in the summer? I’m thinking I’ll post a reminder here in a week or so, and then somewhere around December 19 or 20, post a few comments and/or questions and see who comes to the party. If you think the story will go down easier with a little “Smoking Bishop,” here’s the recipe.
I am definitely up for this. I have never really understood, or quite got, the Chimes. It’d be good to have another look at it.
Oddly enough, I turned on my computer and came to the Valve this morning to propose a completely different reading group notion. Don Paterson’s Orpheus, his version of Rilke’s Sonnette an Orpheus, has popped up in several people’s ‘best of year’ booklists. I was thinking that a reading group that posted a few of the sonnets weekly would enable us to get closer to Rilke, and Paterson (a really good poet) without asking people to buy expensive books: commenters could simply respond to the poems as they are posted. If people think this is a good idea I’d try and contact Paterson to ask if he’d mind his work being used in this way, and aim maybe to get going with it in January. (It goes without saying that Rohan’s Chimes idea is a much better pre-Christmas notion).
I know a couple of people suggested a Le Clezio reading group, but that seems to have foundered on the difficulty of enough folk actually getting hold of the actual books.
I’m up for “The Chimes” as well. And poetry seems like exactly the right sort of thing for the Valve, for the reasons Adam suggested.
That said, it turns out that Le Clezio’s publishers have, in the interim, found ways to actually make his books available to purchase (always a powerful aspect of any business model) so that could go in the queue as well, maybe after reading Paterson/Rilke, after reading Chimes.
I’d be interested in any of these.
I have a blog now, by the way, so I can not clutter up the comment box quite so much.
I’m up for “The Chimes,” too.
Great: if four people are willing to speak up, I bet there are a few more out there who will read the story and chime in (ahem) later on. We can meet back here in a couple of weeks, toddies in hand.
I just read the first half of it today, by coincidence. Well, not a complete coincidence.
I’m in. It sounds interesting. I’ve never read it.
Rich! You have a blog!
To further the festive mood, I forward (via Dave Langford), the link to this one page comicbook redaction of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. It’s all there, I’d say.
Yes, feel free to comment on my blog. It’s perfect if you’re an SF fan who writes poetry. Or have an interest in the minutiae of environmental databases and how they affect politics. Or perhaps you want to read about a failure of environmental politics seen through an SF metaphor, with a poem. At any rate, unlike Adam Roberts, who starts a new blog for each interest, I jammed all of mine together.
There’s a reading of Adam Roberts’ book Splinter that might be of more general interest for some people here, actually.
By coincidence, I have a new blog too. I don’t have as many literature posts as I thought I’d have, probably because they take longer to write. I may scavenge some old notes, but then there’s a good chance what gets up first will be art posts, maybe on Ansel Adams and the Sierra Club, maybe Edward Hopper.
I don’t know yet what the blog is going to be. One of the “ideal readers” I have in mind is a friend who twenty years ago told me he used to read a lot but was annoyed because whenever he followed up on a positive review, he was very much disappointed. I’d like to have a blogroll of stuff I’d recommend if anybody ever asked me for recommendations (it’s a work in progress). I’m realizing I don’t know of a lot of good science blogs especially, so I’d welcome referrals. But so far it’s primarily reactions to my reading, and most of my reading at the moment is reactions to the election.
I may participate in the reading of “The Chimes.” The length seems about right. I may also blog about it, to draw in my massive readership. In fact, why doesn’t The Valve make this a joint effort with other blogs, not just the regular posters’ own personal blogs? For example, David Frum blogs on books a lot (plus, he’s going bipartisan—though isn’t the ASLC a conservative organization?). With enough participation, it could be like those readings where everybody in a city is supposed to be reading the same novel at the same time.
why doesn’t The Valve make this a joint effort with other blogs, not just the regular posters’ own personal blogs? For example, David Frum blogs on books a lot (plus, he’s going bipartisan—though isn’t the ASLC a conservative organization?). With enough participation, it could be like those readings where everybody in a city is supposed to be reading the same novel at the same time.
The more, the merrier, as far as I’m concerned, though I don’t know how one gets something like this underway. Would everyone just kind of put the word out and hope it spreads, meme-like? On the other hand, not having read The Chimes yet, I can’t be sure, but my suspicion is that it is not a text that will support a really rich or long conversation--is this the right time or occasion to give this a try? I imagined only one “post-with-comments” unit for something so light. And yet, on the other other hand, maybe that’s an advantage, compared to the investment of time that was necessary to keep up with the Adam Bede event.
Thoughts? What about if we settle on a date, not too soon but before people go into complete Family Holiday mode--maybe December 19?--as the day to feature discussion of the story all over the place, and then starting talking up the idea?
There’s a way to do getting many non-Valve people involved, bianca, and it’s been done before—check out the “Past Valve Book Events” on the left sidebar. They are a lot of work to set up, I would think. I’d rather keep the reading group events less work to set up, so that we’ll have more of them.
How funny… I pop into the Valve after a very long absence to find the start of another Adam Bede-like reading event. I would be interested in reading The Chimes, too, because we have a beautiful little copy of it in our collection. (I’m a rare books librarian). It is bound in red cloth stamped with gold bells on the cover. I have always thought it was charming but never known what was inside!
Thank you for proposing a humane amount of time to read it in before the holidays.