Sunday, November 14, 2010
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.
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?