Wednesday, March 12, 2014

To Keep or Not to Keep

The progress I made on clearing out books from the basement has slowed pretty dramatically since last year.  In part, Proust just really bogged me down.  Also, I started reading more library books (good on the budget but bad on clearing out already purchased books).  This will probably be the case for the next few months, though if my air travel really picks up (as it is threatening to do), then I will make a concerted effort to take some of these (potentially) second-tier books.  Of course, some books do move from what I expect will be one-time reads to make it into the permanent collection.  Others drop out when I finally do read them (most recently Proust, though there are a few others that now strike me as once-and-done).

I'm actually a little bit torn over Molly Keane's The Rising Tide.  I didn't think this was a terribly good novel by her.  There was some good dialogue here and there, but there was vastly too much telling in the second half, where the plot really dragged.  The other thing is that Keane talked frequently about not being understood by her mother, but I think she must have truly hated her.  Almost all the mothers in her novels are at best completely neglectful and more typically quite monstrous.  (I read Barbara Comyns' The Skin Chairs around the same time, and found it a relief to just be reading again about a totally feckless mother and not a monstrous one, though there is a very young mother who should clearly have her child taken away and put into care, as she is so neglectful and disinterested in the baby.)  You'd wonder if Keane had an Elektra complex a mile-wide, but the fathers are distant and fairly useless, all things considered.  Still, Keane is pretty good on female jealousy.

All in all, I can't even see reading this novel again, and yet I am pretty loathe to break up the set (of 5 Keane novels).  I know I am just being silly, however, and I probably will part with it before too long.  There are a few that are a bit harder calls.  I am not that likely to reread Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time (stashed away somewhere) or even Mahfouz's The Cairo Trilogy.  But these strike me as classic series that just possibly the kids would be ready to read in high school.  So I'll pay to move them one more time...

But not all of them.  As it comes down to the wire, and I really start packing up books in April and May, I think I will make a long list of these books on the fence, and double-check if they are in the Toronto library (and whether they actually circulate).  At least some will have to be left behind (ideally a box-worth or so).  I figure I'll focus on those that I bought used (the vast majority of my books), since it isn't quite as painful as discarding/donating a book that one bought new...

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