Angels and Demons
Not too long before Infinite Summer started up, I ordered books by two authors I figured I was overdue to read. The first was Cormac McCarthy, whose Suttree is set in Knoxville, where I happen to live. I read that one during the last couple of weeks of Infinite Jest (and enjoyed it; will be reading more McCarthy for sure). I hadn’t really known about McCarthy until fairly recently, which fact I suppose I should be a little embarrassed about.
The other author I had known about for a long time. Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel is set in a fictional town based on Asheville, NC, just a hop over the mountains from where I live. Further, Wolfe studied at UNC Chapel Hill, where I happen also to have studied. He’s kind of a big deal around those parts, yet I never managed to read more than one chapter from his signature novel (and that one from deep in the book, excerpted for a Southern literature class), or anything else he wrote. I always meant to but just never was in the frame of mind for what I figured would be a coming-of-age type novel set in a South I had grown up in and found uninteresting and perhaps unworthy of reading about.
As I get older, a sense of place, and more specifically of my own place — the place where my people are from — is more and more important to me, and I suddenly find myself yearning to read about the places I once took to be prosaic and probably a little backward. And so, having gotten a taste of Knoxville in McCarthy’s novel, I’ve now moved eastward and back in time (on both the literary calendar and the calendar of my own geographical migration) to Asheville, where I’ll read about the angel Wolfe borrowed from Milton (a particular interest of mine while studying yet farther east in Chapel Hill) at the same time I’m reading about the demons we’re all being treated to this Halloween month courtesy of Bram Stoker.
What else are you reading alongside Dracula?