Mission

Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.
A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Coffee





It's time for Sunday coffee at Bibliophiliac.  A rather imposing pile of papers awaits me.  I'm trying not to think about it.  I'm going through a bit of a grading slump:  I just can't seem to get up my courage to approach that mounting stack.


Gentle Readers, please be patient with me.  I'm about to leave the gentle book stacks and discuss something bloody, brutal, and full of story.  My secret obsession with boxing seems to come from nowhere.  I have a sort of explanation:  boxing has story.  Actually, boxing has stories within stories.


First of all, boxers rarely come from privileged backgrounds.  Almost by definition, a boxer has a story:  Juan Diaz, college student and boxer.  Manny Pacquiao, boxer, hero, and now Congressman.  They all come from somewhere, on their way to somewhere else, always somewhere better.  


There are stories within the stories:  the family feuds (Mayweather vs. Mayweather)--a boxer's training camp is a closed community, built of family and trusted friends.  There are the stories of ascetic training routines, stories of competition and rivalry within the training camp or between training camps.  There is loyalty and there is betrayal.


There are the great trainers, like Freddie Roach.  There is the poetry of the commentary, the stories in the ruined faces of old boxers.


But I missed this story last night:



So I've been reading about it instead, which might be almost as good.  Manny Pacquiao, fighting at a 17 pound weight disadvantage, clobbered the disgraced Margarito.  I say disgraced because Margarito was previously sanctioned by the boxing commission for having plaster in his boxing gloves, turning his fists into veritable sledgehammers.  So in this story, an ethical fighter beats an unethical fighter, which is always satisfying.


In more literary news (are you still with me Gentle Readers?)  I am nearly finished with The Prime Minister.  Just 126 pages left.  I absolutely love this book.  It is by far the darkest of the Palliser novels (although many dark things happened in Phineas Redux).  Trollope introduces a true villain in the character of Ferdinand Lopez.  Of course, Trollope's novels reflect the world view and prejudices of the man and the times.  There is nothing higher than an English gentleman.  The idea of the gentleman in Trollope is enormous, and I can't even begin to approach an explanation of what that means to Trollope.  But it is fascinating, and one of the central ideas of Trollope's moral universe.


In The Prime Minister, while not completely abandoning the class and gender assumptions of his time, Trollope very sympathetically portrays the position of women, particularly married women.  They were the property of their husbands, there is no other way of saying it, and Trollope shows in devastating detail, what misfortune this could bring on an individual woman.  Trollope's women are the light and the life of this book:  Glencora Palliser, Duchess of Omnium, shows far more gumption and spirit than her stiff-necked husband, although I am rather fond of Planty Pall.


From Pacquiao to the Pallisers!  What other mighty leaps can I make?  Two review copies are waiting for me when I finish The Prime Minister, and I'm looking forward to each of them.  
I already took a peek at Avi Steinberg's memoir Running the Books:  The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian.  I can tell you now that the writing is superb, and I've heard raves for this book all over the blogosphere.

Then this came in the mail the other day, and I was reading the first pages as I walked the dogs:




This will be next after Running the Books.  Conroy is a local writer for me; he lives, very privately, on one of the islands surrounding Beaufort.  The longer I live in the Lowcountry, the more I am fascinated by the stories, and by the old and nearly dying way of life on the water.  My husband has gotten to know some of the shrimpers recently (he's been working on their boats--all of which are 50-75 years old).  There are so many stories that will probably never be told outside of this very closed community. 

How was your week, Gentle Readers?  Are you ready for the week ahead (I'm not.  Off to grade and plan very soon.)?  What stories do you love?  What wonderful read are you looking forward to this week?







18 comments:

Lisa said...

Interesting take on boxing; I've never thought of it that way. I enjoy watching the boxing in the Olympics when it isn't so brutal or so long.

Page said...

Running the Books is good. I'm a librarian and I wouldn't want his job. I hope you enjoy it. My mom was a teacher and grading was the hardest part for her and she hated it. Good luck with grading.

BookQuoter said...

Haha, love this post!! It helps that I think the Pacman rules!!
You look like you really have a busy week. Take it easy though!!

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Manny is quite the man -- loved this post!

I've always wanted to read a Pat Conroy novel, but have picked it up, and then put it back down -- I need to pick one and just run with it!

bibliophiliac said...

@Lisa--my Dad was a big boxing fan, and he was the gentlest person I ever knew--go figure!
@Page--librarians never have to grade papers, and they are around books all day--very smart;)

bibliophiliac said...

@BookQuoter--Isn't Pacquiao amazing? I am in awe of his discipline, his training, his genuine and simple persona. Plus, Freddie Roach is the bomb!

bibliophiliac said...

@Coffee and Book Chick--My Reading Life is all about Conroy's love of reading--it is a memoir through books, something I'm sure we can relate to. This will probably be a big Christmas book...

Priya Parmar said...

i have been circling that pat conroy... can't wait to see what you think!

bibliophiliac said...

@Priya-I literally begged the publicist for a review copy! Very unseemly...

Mayowa said...

Love me some boxing...It is truly a sweet science.

I went to hunt down this link for you after reading this...its a WSJ piece about Pacman and an old Filipino world champion

I just realized we're both in SC...guess all the really cool bloggers live here haha.

bibliophiliac said...

@Mayowa-thanks for the link! Yes, boxing is the sweet science. Manny Pacquiao just dazzles me. I dislike the showy boxers (Antonio Tarver, for instance). I love Pacquiao's monk-like dedication when training, his soft-spoken persona, and most of all his absolute unstoppable performance in the ring. Did you see the Ricky Hatton fight? It was almost sad. But I'm getting carried away again;)

Lesa said...

Never would have imagined in a million years that you would be a boxing fan! It is so interesting and fun to learn more about my fellow bloggers.

I've never read any Trollope but due to your recent posts he is on my TBR list. The prison librarian book sounds interesting too.

bibliophiliac said...

@Lesa--my love of boxing is come by honestly: I got the gene from my Dad;) I hope you will try Trollope. Every book I just love him more. Maybe it's just me? I need to get all my blogging friends to read Trollope and see if they are gobsmacked by him too!

Mayowa said...

I take you don't like Floyd Mayweather much then :)

bibliophiliac said...

@Mayowa--Ha! Mayweather is so over the top! But he seems like he is just playing all the time-he plays those psychological games with his opponents, like when he fought Mosely all that stuff about the Olympic level drug testing. He has created a persona. Now if Mayweather vs Pacquiao ever happens, I would love to see Pacquio clean Mayweather's clock!

Kerry said...

Ok, Running the Books somehow completely missed my radar, but I just ordered a copy. Sounds excellent!

Mayowa said...

So would I...Mayweather talks too much and it would be great to see someone shatter that bloody defense of his for a change

/hating>

Grad said...

I lived in Beaufort as a young bride and met one of my best friends. His family has lived in the same house on The Point for well over 200 years and at one time Conroy was his neighbor. He had wonderful stories to tell about Conroy. I began with The Water Is Wide and have read everything since, with the exception of Beach Music. My friend also has wonderful stories to tell about his ancestors, both ante bellum and beyond. Beaufort remains one of my favorite places even though it has changed (almost alarmingly) over the past 20 years. When I saw Hilton Head after a 20 year absence, I was shocked. I remember when there was very little there other than Hudsons. Great post. (although I'm not a boxing fan, your description was almost poetic).