A Year in Reading by Andrew Saikali

December 7, 2006 | 8 books mentioned 2

A cursory glance at my 2006 reading list and I’m one scream away from seeking therapy. I’m all over the map, really. I couldn’t even begin to explain the path that led me from Jonathan Coe’s epic comic/psycho-drama/mystery The Winshaw Legacy (aka What A Carve Up!) to Jonathan Lethem’s hallucinatory sci-fi Amnesia Moon, to Kenneth J. Harvey’s tough, stylistically ground-breaking Inside, told from the point of view of a just-released convict, freshly cleared on DNA evidence – not guilty (but far from innocent).

Along the way, Philip Roth’s American Pastoral made me rethink modern history, Graham Greene’s The Power and The Glory introduced me to a whiskey priest in Mexico’s past, and William Boyd’s An Ice Cream War took me back further still, to World War I as it affected the lives of colonists in what are now Tanzania and Kenya.

All great, but what lingers the most:

Re-reading J.P. Donleavy’s A Fairy Tale of New York which Andrew Saikali (that would be me) previously described as the story of “an educated rascal with an appetite for life, intertwined with social satire.”

And especially stumbling upon Gustave Flaubert’s Flaubert In Egypt, his actual journey, at age 27, along the Nile, told through journal entries and letters home that are passionate and ribald, frustrated and clear-eyed. To quote, um, myself (in a previous post), “Flaubert In Egypt pulls together these various strands and stands at once as 19th century Egyptian travelogue, youthful memoir, geopolitical Middle Eastern history, and literary artifact – the nexus of Flaubert the youthful romantic and Flaubert the keen-eyed realist.”

is a writer in Toronto, Canada, and passes his days as a copy editor with The Globe and Mail. He spends his moments of leisure listening to music, reading, watching films and prowling the streets of Toronto, and he feels that he is long-overdue for a vacation so that he can do more of those things. At any given time, he is probably pining for distant shores and really should do more traveling and less pining.

2 comments:

  1. Flaubert's "The Desert and the Dancing Girls," an excerpt from Flaubert in Egypt, was one of the Pocket Penguin 70th Anniversary selections.

    As a one time superfan of travel literature, I loved this selection, but wasn't sure if I'd enjoy the entire thing. Maybe I need to rethink that notion.

  2. corey

    it's a fun read. it also contains some pretty remarkable photos from 1850 which his travelling companion took with his new-fangled photographic apparatus !

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