In the past couple of summers, I’ve assigned myself a Big Book to read, first Moby-Dick, and the next year The Portrait of a Lady. I was too distracted by Laura Ingalls Wilder this past summer to keep up the tradition, so I’m not sure if it’s a habit yet or just an anomaly. Anyway, I digress.
Within two days, I came across interesting news about both of these Big Books:
From the Powell’s bookstore website:
“Powell's Books has collaborated with Rogue Ales and Spirits to create a beverage for anyone who has a thirst for books and artisan craft beer — White Whale Ale, infused with the seafaring spirit of Moby-Dick. The concept behind the project was to go where beer has never gone before — by adding actual pages from a copy of Moby-Dick to the brew.”
You can order this craft beer from Rogue Ales.
The Portrait of a Lady
From the Washington Post review of Michael Gorra’s Portrait of a Novel, a book about the creation of The Portrait of a Lady:
“Gorra demonstrates that James was interested less in plot than in character, and specifically in consciousness. “The novel isn’t finally about a young woman’s choice of a husband, or even about Americans in Europe,” Gorra writes. “It is instead a drama of the perceiving mind.” James hoped this sort of intellectual drama would be as “interesting,” he wrote in his 1908 preface, “as the surprise of a caravan or the identification of a pirate,” the stuff of commercial fiction. Gorra underlines how radically James broke from the fiction practices of the 19th century in this novel. Not only did he shift the emphasis from plot to character, but he introduced into fiction one of the earliest examples of “stream of consciousness” (his older brother William’s phrase), and he dared to leave his ending unresolved, to the frustration of many readers.”