Monday, April 9, 2012

What I'm Reading

While everyone else is busy reading The Hunger Games, I've been mucking around with other dystopian-esque texts.

Last month I slammed through all 500+ pages of Michael Korda's memorable memoir, Another Life: A Memoir of Other People, which I lugged home in hardcover from The Book Thing. It's a page-turner account of Korda's decades in the publishing industry that includes great dish (is that slang still used?) about high maintenance authors. His chapter about Jacqueline Susann is scary-funny-juicy.

What makes this romp a dystopian text? For years I've been comparing the imploding mess known as traditional trade publishing with what has (deservedly) happened to the financial services industry. Korda's memoir affirms my every suspicion by revealing how the publishing industry sowed the seeds of its self-destruction during the 1960s and by the 1980s, had created a living hell for authors and real editors.

From there, I segued into reading A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church by Rembert G. Weakland, OSB, a frank memoir that spans nearly 60 years of his involvement with the Roman Catholic Church. Weakland's writing isn't nearly as engaging as Korda's, but that almost doesn't matter. The content is jaw-dropping enough without literary embellishment.

I've only read as far as chapter 10, "Ministering in the Last Years of Pope Paul VI (Rome 1973-1977), but that's far enough along to see how quickly and insidiously the Curia scrambled to regain autocratic dominance after the Second Vatican Council adjourned. Weakland's memoir affirms my worst suspicious about the institutional church.

Does this make me an Educated Seeker or a Glutton for Punishment? Or is that a distinction without a difference?


  1. I like the terms you use to describe your reading habits :-))

    I know we have the choice of what we read but I don't think we have the right to ignore the unpalatable truth about the church, however painful it may be.

    The problem then arises as to how to write about it without incurring the wrath and backlash that seems to ensue these days.

    Thanks for the Weakland review- I would like to hear more on this.

    I'll look it up. :-)

  2. Meredith -- thanks for the reviews. I need to check out the Korda book! -- Jim

  3. Meredith, the Korda book is magnificent. I was just in a Half-Price Books and picked up his Country Matters-it looks wonderful.

    I like you writing about what your reading, hopefully you'll do it more frequently.


  4. Phil: To cheer myself up, I'm also reading A New Pentecost? by Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens. Published in 1974, before things got really bad! Highly recommend.

    Jim: YOU will love the Korda book. Don't hate me for not being able to put it down and staying up all night reading.


    Joe: I'm going to read Queenie next.

  5. I'd like to read that Korda book... that might be good for the summer.

    The Weakland book... I bought it a day after it came out, shelling out almost full hardcover price and I did not regret that choice. It was something to take in. I am thinking of his work and legacy, in the light of other Catholics in Wisconsin currently redefining the principle of subsidiarity. That Munch image on your post reveals how I feel about all of this.

  6. Fran: I reread David Gibson's The Coming Catholic Church or any history of the papacy when I want to cheer up. How sick is that/am I?

  7. Speaking of smart Jewish women who know more about Christianity than most Christians, I just finished another book by Hannah Arendt. Do you read her?


Thanks for your comment and please consider continuing this conversation with me on Twitter and Facebook!