Books Acquired:
Star Trek: Log One, Alan Dean Foster
Sometimes a Great Notion, Ken Kesey

Progress Made:
The Rachel Papers, Martin Amis
The Alien Condition, Stephen Goldin (editor)
Loaded, Dylan Jones

Books Finished:
Great Jones Street, Don DeLillo

Great Jones Street is Don DeLillo’s rock’n’roll novel — his third book, vintage 1973. Its narrator, the whimsically monickered Bucky Wunderlich, is currently AWOL from his band’s ongoing tour, holed up in a dingy apartment on the titular thoroughfare. Despite a distinct and willful lack of action or movement, it has a rhythm to it, and pulls you right through its 265 pages.

But in the end I think DeLillo, like all your literary titans, doesn’t really get rock’n’roll. He’s just a little too much of an egghead to hunker down in the mud where the real music is. He wants to, bless his heart; his sensibility is just too refined.

GJS definitely has the feel of an Early Work, and the Pynchon influence is palpable, though it came out the same year as Gravity’s Rainbow. Maybe he was a big fan of V — which I realize now I’ve never read, and maybe I should — and/or The Crying of Lot 49.

I also read most of a book of science fiction stories called The Alien Condition but it was a mixed bag and toward the end some of them were so bad that I just skipped ahead. So I’m not giving myself credit for it. But I’m glad I picked it up — reading bad sci-fi gives you new appreciation for those who do it well, or at least competently, like my old friend Alan Dean Foster. I picked up Star Trek: Log One — the first of his collections of novelizations of Classic Trek episodes — because I already had Log Two, and I’m a little bit OCD that way. I don’t plan to get all 10, but I’m not promising I won’t either.

I picked up a New Yorker at the airport en route to Nashville, and I didn’t quite finish it. It’s around here somehwere. There wasn’t much other reading on the trip, other than exhibits at the Stax Museum, like this poster of the lyrics of Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness”:

The other book acquisition requires some explanation. A couple years ago we figured out that to combat glare in the early evening, when the sun blazes in through our westward-facing windows, it helped to angle the TV screen by propping up the legs. In the library we found two books that were precisely the right size for the purpose: David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion.

Since then my inner English major has given me no end of grief over using two great works of literature to enable my TV habit. Oh, the irony. So I resolved to replace both paperbacks in the library with quality hardcovers. I’ve seen several copies of Mitchell’s book but not yet the Right One. But hardback copies of Great Notion were few and far between, even online.

Then last week I strolled into Walden Pond books in Oakland, and voila:

The dust cover is a little wrinkled, but it set me back only $9.50. Score! I have every intention of rereading it one of these days. We’ll see.

Meanwhile: Just yesterday I started The Rachel Papers, Martin Amis’s first book — also vintage 1973, as luck would have it. So far so good. More on that subject in the fullness of time.