Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Louisa May Alcott

I've spent a good bit of time with fictional versions of Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Louisa May Alcott these last few days.

During my daily commute to the office (25 minutes each way), I've been listening to Drood, the Dan Simmons novel focusing on the rather strange relationship between Dickens and Wilkie Collins. The novel is almost 800 pages long, and the audio version takes right at 30 hours of listening time, a real chunkster.

I'm also about two-thirds of the way through The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, a brand new novel by Kelly O'Connor McNees in which the author imagines a summer romance for Miss Alcott (in which the young lady actually loses her virginity...what a scandal).

On a personal note, I'm still living with my father as he recovers from surgery and two emergency hospital stays in the last three weeks. To top everything off, we have just started the process of closing down this house so that he can move to an assisted living community this weekend. The good news is that I'll get to go home in a few days - the bad news is that I'll be stuck with a house to sell that will still be about 60% full of my dad's stuff. I've been able to get in a good dose of daily reading but I'm really finding it difficult to scrounge up any computer time...ever try to shred 40 years worth of old financial records? Take it from me - you don't want to go there.

I'm thinking my way through a review of Drood right now. There is so much there that I don't yet know where I'm going to start. Frankly, I'm still trying to figure out how much of what Collins tells really happened, how much was dreamed, and how much he experienced while in his numerous drug-induced stupors. Have any of you guys read this one? I don't think I would have challenged myself with a written version but the audio book, because of the narrator's great reading skill, is lots of fun.


  1. Good luck with clearing out your dad's house. I am dreading doing the same for my husband's parents - they have never met a piece of junk they don't like and every single surface of the house except the ceiling is covered with clutter. If it were up to me, I would just call Salvation Army and tell them to take it all, but my husband has the, "It might be important!" gene and will want to sort through everything.

  2. Sam, if you need help with a realtor, let me know. My company has an extremely good worldwide referral system, and I'd be happy to interview potential candidates on your behalf. (my day job, among other things).
    sean scapellato

  3. I dread the day I must clean out my mom's home.

    Drood...I've been shying away from that one. I guess it's the length.

  4. Factotum, the sorting part of the process is kind of interesting. We found things like my dad's selective service registration from 1943 and his basic training shot record. Even found my own baby book in a stack of stuff...but it is a huge timekiller and I'm still trying to get rid of much of the furniture and appliances so that we can get the place ready for resale. I'm dying here...

  5. Thanks for the offer, Sean. We're not there yet and it looks to be at least another two or three weeks down the road. I'll keep that in mind.

  6. Bybee, Drood is worth the effort, I think, but it will definitely chew up a bunch of your reading time for 2010.

  7. Bybee, Drood is worth the effort, I think, but it will definitely chew up a bunch of your reading time for 2010.