Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sara Malton

Sara Malton is Assistant Professor of English at Saint Mary’s University, where she specializes in nineteenth-century literature, culture, law, and finance. Her work has appeared in Victorian Literature and Culture, Studies in the Novel, and The European Romantic Review. She is the recipient of numerous awards, among them the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Fellowships. Her new book is Forgery in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture: Fictions of Finance from Dickens to Wilde.

Last week I asked her what she was reading. Her response:
I envision the summer as a time for at last reading what I’ve been forced to put off all year long. Yet when I thought about them collectively, I realized that the books that I have on the go are in fact not, as I would have hoped, something altogether different from my daily reality as a professor of English Literature during the period from September to April. Most of them have something to do with academic life, with teaching, or with some of my most beloved canonical authors. Perhaps, then, these books serve as apt transitions from the academic term to the summer months. I suppose I need to ease into it slowly.

I am reading Zadie Smith’s novel, On Beauty, a satire on academic and family life that is said to be based loosely on Howard’s End. While Smith’s wit and insights about anxiety-ridden academe are right on the mark, I do ask myself why I chose a novel just so very long after having spent yet another year mired (happily mired, mind you), in the world of the Victorian triple decker. Smith could have perhaps chosen as an alternative title, Bleak House.

Speaking of Dickens: I’ve also just begun the Commonwealth Prize winner, Mister Pip. This marvelous book depicts what would be for me the ultimate classroom fantasy: a man reads Great Expectations aloud to his class, one chapter per day, for 59 days. Heaven! In all seriousness, though, Lloyd Jones’ tale has me captivated. There’s something strange and compelling, something fantastical about the tale and its telling. I cannot wait to get home to it.

Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies is also sitting on my nightstand, given to me recently by a friend who’s interested in modernism. I’ve so far managed to laugh my way through the initial rough Channel crossing on board with Mrs. Melrose Ape and Father Rothschild. And, perhaps because I hope to spend the months ahead just reading and writing as much as possible, I’ve also returned to something I’ve not read in a long time: Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. It’s in a nice slim volume put out by Penguin (part of their “Great Ideas” series), which is easy to carry around and dip into throughout the day.

Reading so many books at once is a habit of which I’ve tried to rid myself on more than one occasion. With that in mind, perhaps, I’ve chosen for my latest -- and hopefully truly my last -- book on self-help/time management (or, better, “lifestyle design”): Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less.
Visit Sara Malton's faculty webapge, and learn more about Forgery in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue