I picked up Iris Murdoch’s novel The Bell the other day. I’d put it on my 2018 Good Intentions Reading List, but somehow failed to find it at the big used bookstore I frequent. I found six copies there on Friday, all in different editions—it turns out there was another shelf of Murdoch, but higher up and to the right of where I was looking. Anyway.
How is my progress on that 2018 list, you ask? Not great. I stalled out on William Gass’s The Tunnel after about 60 pages. I usually have fun reading Gass and I wasn’t having fun; in fact, I started approaching the book as a chore, which is not what I want to be doing with my spare time. I got sidetracked with Stanisław Witkiewicz’s Narcotics (not on The List—I hope to have a review up this week), and then picked up Don DeLillo’s The Names (on The List) instead of The Tunnel. I sank into the DeLillo, which feels a bit like a smart beach read after tangling with The Tunnel’s difficult defensive barriers. I plan to dip into The Bell next, and then approach the bigger books on The List—Middlemarch, War & Peace, uh, The Tunnel—this summer when my teaching load is a lot lighter.