Down the rabbit hole, with Ariel Manto

In May, I read The End of Mr. Y with my reading group, Different Skies, and Kateri. I was fascinated by this book. I devoured it. It had philosophy and metaphysics, dusty old books and Victorian pseudoscience, tied together with a Neuromancer-esque other world infused with language and thought experiments. Just a perfect combination for me. Also, there was some rough sex (which wasn’t actually all that sexy).

I am not real

The protagonist, Ariel Manto, is an interesting, flawed character, and I enjoyed the time I spent with her reading this novel. Ultimately, I think she’s the kind of person I’d initially get on quite well with, but then slowly come to loathe over the course of an evening — perhaps because I see just a little too much of myself in her, in places.

What she does have, however, is a brilliant and interesting premise for her magazine column, which Kateri and I are considering stealing and twisting to our own purposes:

I write these little articles for a magazine called Smoke. You may not have heard of it. […] I do it pretty intensively. For a month I’ll live and breathe, say, Samuel Butler. Then I’ll find some link from him to take me to the next piece. The column is called Free Association. I started with the Big Bang about three years ago.

Down the rabbit hole

What I’d like to do is take this idea and give it a little spin. Substitute the month’s worth of immersion for a single book, but still find something in it that leads in some way to the next one. Document this progression, and see how the rabbit hole twists and turns as it becomes a warren. See if, when, and how the reading Kateri and I each do crosses paths; see if the chain of books for the rabbit hole ever crosses with books read incidentally.

I already do quite a lot of reading, and I document what I read fairly obsessively over on my GoodReads account. I always intended to do more regular reading retrospective posts on eBookworm; this could be a useful project to explore that. I’m not making any commitments, but I love this idea.


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