To Read Is to Fly

“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.” 
― Alberto Manguel


You can also find me on Goodreads and LibraryThing.

Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry - B.S. Johnson I am joining my voice to the chorus of friends who love this book. I read it yesterday, when I was not in the best of moods. Johnson's writing helped to lift that haze. (Many thanks to Mark for recommending and lending the book to me. I have now ordered my own copy - you're correct that I want it for my collection.)

As mentioned in other reviews, this is an experimental novel that combines wicked doses of dark humor with many different, and hilarious, nods to the fact that this is a novel. The narrator interjects himself regularly into the text, commenting on the conventions of novel writing as he implements, or bends, those rules. The characters talk to each other on occasion about their being in a novel - there's a wonderful sense of a grown-up version of
The Monster at the End of this Book, as I kept imagining the characters talking to each other, making plans to meet in a later chapter, and generally carrying on their existence within the confines of the novel's pages. And, in a memorable instance, the narrator and the protagonist, Christie Malry, talk to each other about the novel's progression and upcoming conclusion.

The premise of the novel is simple - Christie, a young accountant who is dissatisfied with his life, but wants to work in proximity to money, takes a series of jobs for which he learns double-entry accounting. He soon strikes upon the novel idea of developing his own double-entry system, in which he engages in increasingly grandiose acts of revenge to gain credits against the debits that society owes to him, from small disappointments to large-scale frustration over the workings of society and politics in 20th-century England. Johnson's execution of this premise is hilarious and inventively done. Strongly recommended, especially if you are having a bad day - just make sure you don't adopt Christie's brilliant idea yourself. It could have disastrous results.

Currently reading

The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan
Rafia Zakaria
About Women: Conversations Between a Writer and a Painter
Lisa Alther
The Relic Master: A Novel
Christopher Buckley
John Lambert, Emmanuel Carrère
Tourists with Typewriters: Critical Reflections on Contemporary Travel Writing
Patrick Holland, Graham Huggan
Inventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism, and Europe's Early Modern World (Material Texts)
Benjamin Schmidt
Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present
Christian Sahner
Midnight at the Pera Palace: The Birth of Modern Istanbul
Charles King
In Light of Another's Word: European Ethnography in the Middle Ages
Shirin A. Khanmohamadi
Intimate Outsiders: The Harem in Ottoman and Orientalist Art and Travel Literature
Mary Roberts