Friday, April 16, 2004

Reading

I believe in less and less as I get older. I have gotten comfortable with liking things, and not liking things. I find that refreshing.

Reading: The Wild Ass's Skin, by Balzac. He writes like Anne Rice. Some people may think that I am refuting it's quality, but I don't have the authority to do that. I know what I don't like, though.

Yes, I know that in fact Anne Rice writes like Balzac, using florid, endless descriptions and monologues. I stopped reading Anne Rice when she used a thirty page chapter to describe one character. Balzac's characters often say "In short," but never really mean it. Every page I turn, I feel as if a French midget is shouting "Declaim, declaim."

He was a good writer. It's obvious he thought a lot, and had a great number of opinions. But this novel strikes me as overwritten and directionless, like everything Ms. Rice has written post Vampire Lestat, and as pompous and picayune as any given political commentator. Which will be the pleasure of it for some people.

I am finishing it so that I can truthfully say I read Balzac.

Also the April 2004 American Libraries, which has a lot of pictures of expensive, beautiful new libraries. I recently visited one of the libraries shown, in Southfield, Michigan, and it really is a playground. A beautiful place to be.

As a reference librarian, I often wonder what library service is going to be like in ten years. Reference service is down. People think they can get everything they want from search engines, and it's a powerful perception. Probably, in fact, they don't want much. An uncomfortable amount of public library reference has been Consumer Reports and tax forms.

In any case, there's certainly a lot of money being sunk into library infrastructure, so something will be done with it.

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