Join 3,555 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Art Garfunkel's Reading Habits
February 2, 2008 3:11 PM   Subscribe

“I tried ‘Gravity’s Rainbow,’ and I thought it was fraudulent:” Art Garfunkel’s Reading Habits. (previously on MeFi)
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear (44 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
He writes vertical lines in the margin next to passages he finds exceptional

It's good to know that there's one way my notes resemble Art Garfunkel's.
posted by escabeche at 3:16 PM on February 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


I used to write"ah" "how true!" "just so" in margins next to totally meaningless stuff in order to call attention to those passages for the reader.
posted by Postroad at 3:34 PM on February 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


No, YOU'RE fraudulent, Garfunkle! YOU'RE fraudulent!

That said, does anyone have any links to other notable folks' reading lists? The Previously... just has a handful basketball players' and some librarian lady's, it'd be fun to peruse more.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:35 PM on February 2, 2008


Just how many posts do we need on Art Garfunkel’s reading habits? (My guess would have been one.)
posted by languagehat at 3:36 PM on February 2, 2008


Here's the actual list. But man, seriously, who cares.
posted by limon at 3:38 PM on February 2, 2008


I don't know... I saw his list somewhere else on the blue, and I have the same reaction to it as I do to elaborate LibraryThing accounts: what's your motivation? Why do people need public displays of the books they have read? The trophy case mentality is a lot more common with books than films or records, perhaps because reading is perceived as 'hard work' and 'active' compared to listening to music, which is 'recreational' and 'passive.' Okay, Art Garfunkel reads a lot of great books, that's really cool, but maybe Bill Murray has great taste in music, and David Bowie has watched the entire Criterion Collection. (I'm not trying to be snarky, I just find the book list thing a bit bizarre. Still a good post.)
posted by farishta at 3:43 PM on February 2, 2008


Imagine if Pynchon responded by including an unsympathetically-drawn character called Kraft Funkelgarten or something in his next novel -- you know, in 2020. That's the kind of artistic feud I want to see.
posted by No-sword at 3:49 PM on February 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


I write little notes on my computer screen next to online comments that I find especially meaningful.

Or, rather, I leave stains on the screen next to YouPorn videos.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:50 PM on February 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


(I just want to say, I've noticed that the comments on YouPorn are generally about a thousand times more literate than the comments on YouTube. Make of this what you will.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:53 PM on February 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


An extensive list of Art Garfunkel's YouPorn history, as narrated by Pynchon- now that would be interesting.
posted by farishta at 3:56 PM on February 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Weird. Pynchon called Fate for Breakfast "a brave and bracing missive from the far side of the American Dream, where history's long shadow, crepuscular and cold, dims the brightling faces of our most golden children just as they whip out their kazoos to play their last and happiest tune."
posted by dyoneo at 4:11 PM on February 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


There are so many great possibilities with "An extensive list of _____'s YouPorn history, as narrated by _____."
posted by danb at 4:24 PM on February 2, 2008


Imagine if Pynchon responded by including an unsympathetically-drawn character called Kraft Funkelgarten or something in his next novel -- you know, in 2020. That's the kind of artistic feud I want to see.

Actually, Pynchon did engage in some mutual reference-dropping, although it was not a feud.

In The Crying of Lot 49, Pynchon depicts a tech company called Yoyodine. As an homage, the movie Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension features a company called Yoyodine. Pynchon later responded by describing in one of his books (Vineland? V?) a band with a very similar name to Buckaroo Bonzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:26 PM on February 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Actually, it couldn't have been V. Was probably Vineland.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:27 PM on February 2, 2008


I've never sympathized with Garfunkel before, but I also found Gravity's Rainbow disappointing, though probably not for the same reason. It just plods along so much.

Hell, it took me four tries to even finish it once.

(But unlike Sir Art, I do read and enjoy most of the pomofic, including the three-headed beast of Pynchon/DeLillo/DFW, so my problem seems to be GR specific.)
posted by rokusan at 4:47 PM on February 2, 2008


Everyone knows that these are the things that should be written in the margins of books:

"viz: Rubbish!",
"Yes, indeedl How true, how true!",
"I don't agree at all",
"Why?",
"Yes, but cf. Homer, Od., iii, 151",
"Well, well, well. Quite, but Boussuet in his Discours sur l'histoire Universelle has already established the same point and given much more forceful explanations",
"Nonsense, nonsense!",
"A point well taken!",
"I remember poor Joyce saying the very same thing to me. "

With apologies to Myles na gCopaleen (although he would start it: "Even my thick wife knows...")
[NOT WIFEIST]

posted by tiny crocodile at 4:51 PM on February 2, 2008 [10 favorites]


Any thread that inspires a reference to the sainted Flann O'Brien is a fine thing in my eyes.
posted by languagehat at 5:00 PM on February 2, 2008


I don't know... I saw his list somewhere else on the blue, and I have the same reaction to it as I do to elaborate LibraryThing accounts: what's your motivation? Why do people need public displays of the books they have read? The trophy case mentality is a lot more common with books than films or records, perhaps because reading is perceived as 'hard work' and 'active' compared to listening to music, which is 'recreational' and 'passive.'
I can't speak for Garfunkel, but I use LibraryThing, and I can state that, for me at least, your "trophy case" theory has little if anything to do with why I use it.

It's actually good at suggesting books that I would like, based upon what I have liked in the past.
posted by Flunkie at 5:29 PM on February 2, 2008


As a bit of a pack rat, I like to keep lists of things. It helps keep me organized, and something about the process of cataloging things is calming and therapeutic. I like to display said lists, on Facebook and such, not so much as a "trophy case" but as a way to display my "self" -- what I choose to listen to, read, watch, etc, and how I organize and categorize those items says a lot about me, more so, perhaps, than many other indicators of self (sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, political party, etc).
posted by papakwanz at 5:36 PM on February 2, 2008


I dunno. A book every two weeks doesn't strike me as particularly 'voracious'.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 5:41 PM on February 2, 2008


I was pretty much done after the 60-odd page description of swimming through shit. I don't know about "fraudulent," but it's just not a good enough book to demand the amount of work it wants from the reader.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:55 PM on February 2, 2008


what's your motivation? Why do people need public displays of the books they have read?

Sez the guy who took his handle from a Rushdie character.

Joshing aside, what Flunkie & papakwanz said.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:56 PM on February 2, 2008


Hi dyoneo, really? Was this on the liner notes, like the time Pynchon showed up mysteriously to write text for some other band I had never heard of?
posted by johngoren at 6:07 PM on February 2, 2008


I was pretty much done after the 60-odd page description of swimming through shit.

Weird, that's about the time I fell hopelessly in love with the book. Diff'rent strokes I guess.
posted by naju at 6:42 PM on February 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't The New Yorker know to italicize book titles instead of placing them in quotes? Yeah, I know Garfunkel wrote it, but they have editors there, don't they?
posted by Clay201 at 7:24 PM on February 2, 2008


You know they have their own idiosyncratic höuse stÿle, Clay201.
posted by danb at 7:27 PM on February 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


That's what you get when you fill the editor-in-chief's position with Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:13 PM on February 2, 2008


Garfunkel's actual list contains a number of weird errors. "Down and Out in Paris and London," for instance, is "Down and Out in London and Paris." "Ecce Homo" is "Ecco Homo."

Also: 703. Feb 1996 James Boswell The Life of Samuel Johnson 1791 342 pp.

342? Way to read the abridged version.

But overall, he has admirable taste. I aspire to read almost all the books on his list, though I wish I hadn't read Proust straight through--it seems a lot better to savor it over two decades.
posted by nasreddin at 9:47 PM on February 2, 2008


I was pretty much done after the 60-odd page description of swimming through shit.

One of the charming things about GR is that it was, without a doubt, the dirtiest book I've ever read. It, quite literally, has something in it for everyone.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:29 PM on February 2, 2008


I aspire to read almost all the books on his list, though I wish I hadn't read Proust straight through--it seems a lot better to savor it over two decades.

Actually, I've been wanting to post an AskMe about this. How exactly does one read Proust? I've been wanting to read A Rememberance of Things Past, but, it's, like, 12 books or something. Is it the sort of thing where you can read one book, take a break, and then come back and read another book, take another break, read another, etc? Because I want to read it, but there's lots of other books I want to read, as well.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:32 PM on February 2, 2008


I see from the comments in the previous Mefi post that Afroblanco looks like Garfunkel. Interesting, because Teller once told me that people compare him to Art Garfunkel.
posted by Tube at 11:42 PM on February 2, 2008


Afroblanco: Nice! Did you hear about the Simpsons reference in Against the Day, too? (Hard to explain without spoiling the gag, and I figure for a Pynchon book the spoiler period should be at least 5 years, but the Pynchon Wiki says it's on page 409.)
posted by No-sword at 11:50 PM on February 2, 2008


Sez the guy who took his handle from a Rushdie character.

Joshing aside, what Flunkie & papakwanz said.


Thanks, Flunkie/Papa/Alvy, for saving me from being judgmental of LibraryThingers. I never considered the recommendation thing. And yes, the comment was a bit eponysterical- perhaps in projecting onto others I'm really just hating a part of myself? Mefi mail me for a 12MB panoramic image of my bookshelf, with embedded, annotated tags and reviews!
posted by farishta at 11:55 PM on February 2, 2008 [1 favorite]



Actually, I've been wanting to post an AskMe about this. How exactly does one read Proust? I've been wanting to read A Rememberance of Things Past, but, it's, like, 12 books or something. Is it the sort of thing where you can read one book, take a break, and then come back and read another book, take another break, read another, etc? Because I want to read it, but there's lots of other books I want to read, as well.


I read the whole thing over the course of last summer (about 1 book every 2 weeks), with a book group made up of like-minded friends. The book-group approach worked really well. (YMMV) I'd say that reading them back-to-back works because the tiny subplots and loose ends are relatively fresh in your mind, and it's difficult to keep all the various duchesses and princesses straight otherwise. On the other hand, I'd imagine that stretching the experience over 20 years, as Garfunkel did, allows a richer understanding of the novel, because you can connect it to your own developing life-experience.

Of course, the problem either way is that afterwards you start feeling like you need to read it again.
posted by nasreddin at 12:07 AM on February 3, 2008


Oh, and don't think of the Recherche as just another book. It's more of an event in your life, like living in a new city for a year.
posted by nasreddin at 12:19 AM on February 3, 2008


I agree with nasreddin. In contrast I spent 5 years on and off reading proust. It felt like the end of an era when I had finished it. And there were parts (like the death of his grandmother, finding a wife) that resonated with my own life as I was going through it. It really is one of those books that gradually teaches you how to read it. Sometimes it seems utterly tedious, describing all these parties for hundreds of pages. But then you click into the overwhelming beauty and detail of it every so often. And in some parts he's as good a philosopher as any.

I suggest you buy all the books at once, so they are there when you want them. But don't worry about stopping to read other books if you feel like it. And make a note of pages you particularly like so it's easy to find them again.
posted by leibniz at 3:19 AM on February 3, 2008


AskMe thread about reading Proust.
posted by Jorus at 5:15 AM on February 3, 2008


How exactly does one read Proust? I've been wanting to read A Rememberance of Things Past, but, it's, like, 12 books or something. Is it the sort of thing where you can read one book, take a break, and then come back and read another book, take another break, read another, etc? Because I want to read it, but there's lots of other books I want to read, as well.

I've been reading it to my wife in the evenings; we started in late 2006 and it looks like we'll finish next month (we just got to the final volume). I'd recommend reading it continuously, because characters will disappear for hundreds of pages and then turn up again and you'll be expected to know who the hell they are; if you read the three-volume Vintage edition published in the early '80s (here's Volume I), which is what we're doing (it's an excellent revision of Scott Moncrieff's classic translation), you can have the tremendous help of Terence Kilmartin's A reader's guide to Remembrance of things past, which lists all the names of people and places with page references and brief descriptions for each mention. (That's all the more useful, of course, if it's been years since you read the previous volume!) Anyway, by all means read it, whatever strategy you use; as leibniz says, the parties can be heavy going, but sometimes Proust makes you laugh out loud—his sense of humor was probably the biggest surprise for my wife and me.
posted by languagehat at 6:07 AM on February 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


Foucault, Balzac, Chesterton, Heidegger, Spinoza, Hazlitt, Milton, Proust: he has slayed them all, and let us know.

Has slayed? Has slayed???

There's something seriously wrong with the world when a writer for The New Yorker can't use the past participle correctly.
posted by spacewaitress at 10:04 AM on February 3, 2008


I find Garfunkel's achievement impressive, yet I still can't help but be reminded of the Simpsons episode where Sideshow Bob ousts Krusty the Klown so that he can read The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas to the kiddies. When Bart asks why Sideshow Bob has discontinued the Itchy 'n' Scratchy cartoons, Sideshow Bob points him to a "hilarious caricature of Susan Sontag" in the New York Review of Books as a worthy substitute. It's just something about the hair and the resentment of living in the shadow of a more beloved and famous collaborator that reminded me of Sideshow Bob.
posted by jonp72 at 10:06 AM on February 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't help but feel that Art Garfunkel's reading habits are completely irrelevant to my life. Sort of like Art Garfunkel after he broke up with Paul Simon, actually.

Sort of like Paul Simon after he broke up with Art Garfunkel, actually, since I am specifically and narcissistically talking about my life.
posted by Caduceus at 6:15 PM on February 3, 2008


MetaFilter: Yes, but cf. Homer, Od., iii, 151
posted by rokusan at 8:18 PM on February 4, 2008


Incidentally, I think Homer, Od., iii, 151 is "For Zeus was bringing destruction, our doom was approaching fast."
posted by nasreddin at 8:47 PM on February 4, 2008


languagehat: I just pulled out an article from USA Today called "What I Read", which yesterday featured Mei Xu, owner and CEO of Chesapeake Bay Candle and Blissliving Home. I can't find the link online, so here's the booklist, sans commentary.

She's reading: The Quest for Global Dominance: Transforming Global Presence into Global Competitive Advantage by Anil K. Gupta and Vijay Govindarajan.

She recently read: A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future by Daniel H. Pink.

Her favorite book: The Last Song of Dusk by Diddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi.

Three other favorites:
The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind
posted by lhall at 1:54 PM on February 5, 2008


« Older Just ended on eBay: Auction for the Wycliffite New...  |  Cold outside? Gray skies and i... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments