Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

5 classic books that I don't know anything about.

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Sometimes there are books that I feel like I should know something about, but which I've never bothered to pay much attention to. Sometimes they're dauntingly long. There are a lot of books in the world. Why would I read a seven volume novel about some guy lying in bed when I could read a dozen good regular sized books by different authors? And sometimes there's a classic book that somebody I hated really liked. Anyway, here are some books I pretend to know something about when they come up at the fancy literary parties I am clearly always attending - and here are my vague ideas of what they are about.

1. In Search of Lost Time - Proust.

This is a seven volume book about some guy waking up, and possibly going to get a newspaper and making breakfast. Also, there are lesbians in one of the books. Which seems like an okay reason to wake up.

2. Anna Karenina - Tolstoy.

This is about a woman with a big hat. In Russia, I guess? And it's old, so probably she has sex and everybody is angry about that. Also, there is some wheat which blows in the fields and makes a sound.

3. Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace.

I'm not even sure this is a novel. All anyone ever talks about is the footnotes, and tennis? It sounds like a boring experimental poetry book about tennis. Tennis!

4. The Stranger - Camus.

This is a book about a french guy who wants everyone to think he's a cool outsider rebel like Tom Waits and Bukowski, before there was Tom Waits and Bukowski. Also, I bet he turns out to be a vampire.

5. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte.

I just think of the cover of the movie Gone with the Wind, which I don't know anything about, either. There's a man holding a woman tightly, like they're going to have sex and then blow up the white house. Because they're some kind of revolutionaries! Well, he is, and she loves him so much that she doesn't care. Even bloody carnage is peace when she's in his arms.


Using the original language title when the translation is only an approximation of its meaning is reasonable, I think!

LYINGCAKE, come on don't be a total douche by using the french title. You're better than that.

I'm not using the French title to be pretentious, I'm using it because L'Etranger translates to English as both "the outsider" and "the stranger", both of which have somewhat different meanings, in general and in the context of the novel. It's technically a more accurate title than either of the English ones. I'm flattered that you think I'm better than that though.

Infinite Jest is really about addiction and mental illness and suicide, which are all fun things to read about. But yes, there is a lot of tennis as well. It's still a great book.

Just read the good bits of said books. Which would be the first half of L'Etranger and the first line of Anna Karenina. Should take about an hour and a half ;D

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Joey Comeau

Joey Comeau is the author of Overqualified and Lockpick Pornography. With photographer Emily Horne, he creates the comic A Softer World. One Bloody Thing After Another is his latest book.

Go to Joey Comeau’s Author Page