Tuesday, January 16, 2007

From My Bookshelf: Recent Reads

Last night I finished reading Sigrid Nunez's The Last of Her Kind. I was inspired to read it for two reasons. First, now that I'm moving to New York I'm practically salivating over the catalog of events at the 92nd Street Y (and contemplating some fiction workshops there: Nunez teaches one). And then, I'd also quite recently read an interview with Nunez in the February 2007 Writer's Chronicle. So when I was in the Harvard Book Store last week picking up tickets for some imminent events, I grabbed The Last of Her Kind off the shelf (it was reduced 20%, too).

It's a marvelous book. Since it begins in 1968, and spends quite a bit of time depicting the atmosphere of that era, I started to think of it as an historical novel.

According to the Historical Novel Society, "To be deemed historical (in our sense), a novel must have been written at least fifty years after the events described, or have been written by someone who was not alive at the time of those events (who therefore approaches them only by research)." This is not an accurate description of Nunez's relationship to the novel as its author, but it does describe mine as a reader.

Which may lead to an interesting issue about the variable "historicity" of a novel depending on who is reading it, rather than who is writing it. Thoughts?

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