Bridalhat t1_jebldvl wrote

I have at most a vague or kinda half-hearted idea of what I am going to read next. I pick based on mood and vibes I won’t know what they are until I am done with the book I am currently reading.

Also sometimes it’s fun to stand in front of your own shelf and choose your next book!


Bridalhat t1_jdjx4lk wrote

I took the giant hulking Everyman Library’s Joan Didion (We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live; Slouching Towards Bethlehem; White Noise; Salvador; Miami; After Henry; Where I’m From) with me when I had to drive to the West Coast last year. I got to it by the time I made my slooooooow way back to Chicago.

Also try reading The Count of Monte Cristo at 20ish and 33ish. You will feel that gulf of years that was taken out of Dantes’s life when you remember where and when you first read certain passages.


Bridalhat t1_jdekmzk wrote

Reply to comment by CrossXFir3 in Internal voice when reading by 1__ajm

I read fast enough for my own taste (I’ve never tested it—the big hurdle is finding time to read but I don’t think I’m much above or below average) and I like that I have an internal narrator! I’ve spent a lot of time reading poetry in French, Latin, and Greek and think that good writing should be “heard,” if that makes sense. I write casually and will delete if something would be difficult or awkward to say out loud, and I have to assume at least some of the people I am reading do the same. Good prose requires a good ear.


Bridalhat t1_jceb0o1 wrote

I mean I’m on classics Twitter and book Twitter and the retelling of story with rape at the center of it has already been a bad take machine several times, and the most popular writer in the myth retelling space is probably going to make certain corners of the internet implode

ETA: and once upon the time I was a part-time professional classicist who was paid to write about sex in the ancient world and I am extremely hesitant to use the word “rape” because they don’t have an equivalent term. The Latin “raptus” does mean rape, but it most generally means “seizure” wherein forced sexual congress could be implied there. Women in the ancient world didn’t have agency over their bodies and it was their captors exercising their authority over them rather their husbands or fathers (unless the captors became their husbands and then it was legally ok). The wants of the woman rarely figured into the story, one way or another. There was actual material loss in illicit sex and that is why stories, like Terence’s the Eunuch, feature women marrying their rapists as a happy ending. Conversely, wanted sex could be a bad thing as it could ruin a woman’s chances for a husband and thus financial stability.

(Also it’s easy to dismiss an obsession over social prospects, but that is all women had. For a modern equivalent, remember a time in your life where everything was going your way and you were excited for your future, and then imagine if you were raped that you would lose whatever it is that made you excited and you would still have to deal with a fallout from rape. Some of your tears will be for the rape, others for the future you wanted that you weren’t getting anymore.)

Anyway, the story of Persephone, in every telling, is what we would describe as rape. Girl, field, mother, tears. Even if Miller handles it deftly, loud corners of the internet will not.


Bridalhat t1_j9aoo8t wrote

Which incidentally is how most people in antiquity interacted with the works! Festivals would have contests for the recitation of Homer and bards would choose sections that suited their talents, and stories that take place in and around the Trojan War were ripe for adaptation by tragedians (various Iphigenias before the Trojan War, some Ajaxes during and Aeschylus’s Myrmidons took place during the Iliad, and the Orestian cycle after). On top of that people would order only certain books of the Iliad and Odyssey (Iliad II the most popular then and least popular today). Most educated people probably sat down with the entirety of Homer eventually, and many people had it memorized, but most people’s first interactions with the Trojan War myth were piecemeal.

Spoilers are so, so beside the point.

ETA: you mentioned people not reading Homer through all the way. Even if they did they wouldn’t be getting the whole story! The Iliad starts in the ninth year of the war (so no judgment of Paris, no abduction of Helen, no sacrifice of Iphigenia), and takes place over a few weeks and ends with the death and funeral of Hector. Achilles and Ajax deaths and the Trojan horse and fall of Troy all occur offpage between the Iliad and the Odyssey. These were only episodes in a much larger story (and I don’t even think the so-called epic cycle covered all of it).


Bridalhat t1_j9anpaz wrote

Also the outline of events would have been known by Homer’s audience. At one point Homer switches to second person with Patroclus and it’s pretty much him saying “you’re about to die, yo.”

(Incidentally Hector, Sarpedon, Patroclus, and Achilles all seem to know they aren’t long for the world for various reasons.)


Bridalhat t1_j97m5p3 wrote

I already have some Chicago recs, but Prairie Lights in Iowa City is worth a visit if you in the state. The Writer’s Program at UofI is a heavy hitter and the bookstore matches. Also booze.


Bridalhat t1_j97lj01 wrote

Seconding Unabridged! One of my favorite bookstores in the country (and I travel for work usually get books rather than souvenirs). Also 47th St in Hyde Park near UChicago is pretty much as close to a bookstore neighborhood as you will find. It’s worth it for The Seminary and Powell’s alone.


Bridalhat t1_j5zd4u4 wrote

I have a minishelf behind me and I enjoy swapping out the books. Sometimes they will be themed or I’ll just grab a bunch of the same color.

And I’m not going to blame people for displaying their own books—it’s probably part of their job and who knows the next time so many eyes will be on your book at once.


Bridalhat t1_j5zcvas wrote

I rarely do my zoom calls in the same place I work. It’s private and the lighting on me is not the best anyway. So yeah, I usually will just take a little table and drop it in front of my bookshelf. It feels like the most control k could have over my background as I also choose what books will be behind me.


Bridalhat t1_j1zx7i0 wrote

I also hated Thetis in TSOA. I get the vibes, but she decides that the Myrmidons aren’t crying hard enough at Patroclus’s funeral in the Iliad and leads them to sob harder. She also took care of Hephaestus after Hera threw him off of Mt Olympus for being too ugly. She seems like a nice lady! But Patroclus was such a flat character Miller had to find a villain or an obstacle somewhere and landed on the few female characters.

ETA: I want to emphasize that I am ok with novel interpretations, but the women bore the worst of it in TSOA, and I think a more interesting story without Thetis as an outright villain the whole time could have been told. Like, at the end of the day, I just think it was kind of boring and the scope was extremely limited. Like, Patroclus’s funeral was a big deal in the Iliad, and Menelaus and Ajax risked their lives to get his body back, and many more men died for it. But I guess we just get a line about Patroclus helping Menelaus with his headaches?

Otoh the characters in the Iliad, after nearly dying to get the body back, would not have backed down when Pyrrhus says Patroclus’s name won’t be on the tomb. Whatever.


Bridalhat t1_j1y3met wrote

Most of my problems with TSOA revolve around the fact that Patroclus is such a flat character, and conflict needs to come from a bunch of other quarters (mostly women who themselves are victimized in myth) because otherwise the self-insert and his jock boyfriend are just too…boring, I guess.

Ive gone into this before, but Patroclus is a fascinating character in the Iliad. He has epithets like “god-born” and “known-to-god” (god here being Zeus, who was his ancestor, maybe his grandfather depending on who you think his mother is), and is said to be a “mortal like a god,” and has by far the highest kill count in the Iliad. He kills the second greatest fighter on the Trojan side, and has quite a few epithets, which is a decent metric for how heroic a character should be (Paris has one, lol). Like Achilles his father was on board the Argo, and his grandmother rather than mother was a sea nymph.

He is capable of ending the Trojan War but is not allowed to. A god has to swoop in and stop him. He has the pedigree of a minor or mid hero, but he has to live in Achilles shadow, and might even be an Achilles figure because the plot of the Iliad demands that Achilles sits it out so you need some heroing.

Anyway, I don’t think characters have to match myth completely, but you need some kind of manikin to hang the rest of the outfit on, and there is nothing in myth to justify this pacifist version of Patroclus. The character in TSOA is not interesting, and there are so many aspects of the mythic character you could use to explore fate and heroism and sex and Miller just…doesn’t, at least in any way more profound than “I guess I died where is Achilles I miss him.”

And it kills me that the bit at the end-the bit with the small part of the Trojan war that occurs during the Iliad—is so jarringly different than the rest of the book. That’s the source material!


Bridalhat t1_j1y2g48 wrote

Lol, the prose is one of the few parts I unabashedly like. I’ve read Homer in Greek as well as works that take place in distant, ancient times, and I thought that the choice to mostly eschew Greek-root and even Latinate words was a good one. You go the feeling of pre-history, which considering princes in Bronze Age Greece were likely barely literate, this story was. If only it were in service of more interesting characters.