Monday, June 23, 2008
In Which We Begin To Talk About A Book We've Read
Pierre Bayard's How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read isn't really about faking it. Au contraire . It's very much about reading. In fact, it's a far more interesting and heartfelt discussion of reading than the "classic" How to Read a Book, which I'm guessing has destroyed the will to read in generations of Americans.
Bayard's tone is often slightly tongue-in-cheek, particularly in the early chapters. In fact, for a while I wondered if he was making up a couple of the authorities he cited early on. But, no, there really was a Robert Musil and a Paul Valery. And I've just admitted I'd never heard of them. Yikes.
But I am talking about them.
One of the many interesting things about this book called How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read is that each chapter includes a discussion of an author or a work that Bayard, if all his footnotes are to be believed, has read. All the books he discusses, either nonfiction or fiction, included a discussion of avoiding reading or a character who is in some kind of situation in which he can be said to have to talk about books he hasn't read. Bayard does more than use this material to support his own arguments. He makes these books sound interesting.