Friday, February 22, 2008

Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

Title: The Polysyllabic Spree
Author: Nick Hornby
# pages: 140
Date published: 2004
Genre: Nonfiction essays about books and reading
Challenge(s): 2008 A Novel Challenge mini challenge #9

First Sentence:

So this is supposed to be about the how, and when, and why, and what of reading—about the way that, when reading is going well, one book leads to another and to another, a paper trail of theme and meaning; and how, when it’s going badly, when books doesn’t stick or take, when your mood and the mood of the book are fighting like cats, you’d rather do anything but attempt the next paragraph, or reread the last one for the tenth time.”

Synopsis from Barnes & "Books are, let's face it, better than everything else," writes Nick Hornby in his "Stuff I've Been Reading" column in The Believer. "If we played cultural Fantasy Boxing League, and made books go 15 rounds in the ring against the best that any other art form had to offer, then books would win pretty much every time. Go on, try it. The Magic Flute v. Middlemarch? Middlemarch in six. The Last Supper v. Crime and Punishment? Fyodor on point. And every now and again you'd get a shock, because that happens in sport, so Back to the Future III might land a lucky punch on Rabbit, Run; but I'm still backing literature 29 times out of 30." This book collects Hornby's popular columns in a single with selected passages from the novels, biographies, collections of poetry, and comics under discussion.

Random Thoughts: When someone in the A Novel Challenge group mentioned this book, I wrote down the title because I needed some essays to fulfill a challenge. I picked up the book only intending to read one essay to fulfill the challenge requirements, but I enjoyed the first essay so much that I read the rest of the book. Along the way, I revisited books I’ve already read (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler, We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, and Mystic River by Dennis Lehane) and found others that I’d like to read (anything by J. D. Salinger, The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem, Stop-Time by Frank Conroy, How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer, Old School by Tobias Wolff, and So Many Books by Gabriel Zaid)

Favorite Part: Aside from the discussion about books, which I found very interesting, I also enjoyed Hornby’s humor. The Polysyllabic Spree is Hornby’s name for his editors at the magazine where these columns originally appeared.

Favorite Quote: Discription of the town Hay-on-Wye.

“Hay is a weird town on the border of England and Wales that consists almost entirely of secondhand bookshops—there are forty of ‘em within a few hundred yards of each other—and one of which is an immaculately stocked poetry store.”
Wow, I’m definitely putting Hay-on-Wye on my “to visit someday” list!

Rating: 4 (highly recommended)

Also reviewed by:

A Striped Armchair

Dog Ear Diary

1 comment:

She Became a Butterfly said...

i just joined the tbr challenge, and i thought i'd check out your blog.

my friend and i just started a book lovers message board, so i thought i'd invite you!!