Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Packed Matt Ruff’s[1] Lovecraft Country for my trip to Scotland, a present from a friend who had a voucher she didn’t know what to do with. The book, not the trip. We’re going for a week, a couple days each in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and we’re also taking the Harry Potter train at Fort William. But the trip’s still two days away, not enough time to start and finish something else, but I also don’t want to take two books with me or be left stranded with nothing to read half way through the trip. What do? Eternal conundrum!

So today, while hesitating over what to do, I made my single greatest discovery since getting a smart phone: there’s a Project Gutenberg app! The rest of the night burnt through as I greedily downloaded one epic poem after another: Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Dante’s Divine Comedy, nothing that I can see myself sitting down and really ‘reading’, (I may force myself though some difficult and/or horrid books, but this is another level entirely), but I figure if I had it on my phone, I would be able to dip into it every now and then when I’m, say, waiting for the M29 bus, digest a verse or two at a time. I decided it probably wouldn’t be part of Reading the Why, more something I return to over the weeks and months, background music, so to speak.

Now it’s two days later and, surprise! I’m actually 15 cantos into Dante’s Inferno. Like I said, I never thought this stuff was readable, palatable, stomachable, in anything but small doses, one or two verses at a time, once or twice a week, but actually it is. It’s not easy, mind you. I’m reading two translations simultaneously–switching back and forth whenever I get bogged down in the language–plus using Wikipedia for an arching overview. But I’m actually enjoying it! Though it does feel like I’ll lose the thread if I stop and have to start again, so what does that mean for Matt Ruff?

-Reading the Why

[1] In my opinion, a hugely underrated author.

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