Today I was thinking about which fat Dickens novel I'd like to re-read next, after the spring semester ends. "Martin Chuzzlewit!" I said to myself. It's the only novel that's partially set in the US, and its biting observations about American culture still resonate. I read it for the first time in 2001, not long after our return from two years in the UK, and I am curious to see how my memories hold up. Plus it's an interesting time in which to reflect on outsiders' perceptions of the wacky ways we do things here in the US.
"Oh!" said my brain to itself, "let's spread the word right away! How many people will want to join in? We could make a hashtag: #FAMDRAL, for Fourth Annual May Dickens Read-Along!" And then I thought realistically about the number of people who will probably want to re-read a 900-page novel that I myself have classed in the bottom tier of Dickens novels, and I had to laugh at my enthusiasm.
But hey-- if you are pining away to learn more about the Dickensian perspective on US quirks and redemption through illness and Victorian midwifery, you have 3.5 months to deal with your current reading backlog. I know you won't want to miss a minute of the #FAMDRAL party.
At the top of my own pile is a brand-new book called Class. The Times reviewed it this week and I bought it impulsively. The main character is increasingly unlikable and yet I do not want to see the trainwreck I fear awaits her. It is crisply written, packed with on-target zingers about mommy-wars nonsense and subtle flavors of racism, but it is also pretty depressing. This character won't stop telling lies, though, and I almost can't deal with it. (My reaction reminds me of the way I felt about Eligible. People on the internet had all kinds of complaints about that book; I liked it except for the lies. I hate it when characters I'm supposed to like keep telling lies.)
I am bracing myself to find out what happens. Something I appreciate about Dickens: you're never expected to root for a person who lies habitually. There, I bet that filled you with firm resolve to join me in May. (I bet Tracy, who may not have forgiven me for persuading her to tackle Bleak House three years ago, is pretty sure what she's not reading in May.)