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Zeno's Conscience
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Monthly Book Reads > Zeno's Conscience - January 2018

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message 1: by Kaycie (new)

Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
Here is the thread for January 2018's Family and Self read, Zeno's Conscience.

Who is reading this month?


message 2: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher (Donut) | 245 comments I want to read it. It is about quitting smoking, so a good January selection- but hoo boy do I have a lot of GR group commitments.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments I'll be in on it at some point, but I've really overextended myself this month as well. But I've had this tottering at the top of my TBR stack for so long, I'm very glad to get the nudge to finally get around to it.


Darren (dazburns) | 760 comments Mod
I have bought this one on Kindle so I will be reading it, but not starting for a couple of weeks...


message 5: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 825 comments Darren wrote: "I have bought this one on Kindle so I will be reading it, but not starting for a couple of weeks..."

Hahaha! I came here to post the exact same thing!


message 6: by Christopher (last edited Jan 11, 2018 08:01PM) (new) - added it

Christopher (Donut) | 245 comments Kindly disregard this post. I thought I was posting to the Aristotle thread....

Will get to Zeno this weekend, I hope.

Glad you liked it after all, Cphe.


message 7: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher (Donut) | 245 comments Well, I liked this from the get-go, and I think Bryan would like it even more than I do.

I thought the first chapter was funny- where he agrees to be locked up in order to cure his smoking habit.

The second chapter is about his father's last illness. Very touching.

Here is a quote from early in the second chapter. Not really a spoiler. (This is funny, I thought. The chapter shifts in tone later)

... As for women, I learned from some relatives that my mother had had some cause for jealousy. Indeed, that mild woman apparently had sometimes to resort to violent measures to keep her husband in line. He allowed himself to be guided by her, whom he loved and respected, but apparently she never managed to wring any confession of infidelity from him, and thus she died in the conviction that she had been mistaken.

Still, my good kinfolk tell how she caught her husband virtually in flagrante at her dressmaker’s. He excused himself on the pretext of absentmindedness and so firmly that he was believed. The only consequence was that my mother never returned to that dressmaker, nor did my father. I believe that in his shoes I would have ended up confessing, but I would not have been able to abandon the dressmaker afterwards, for where I stand, I put down roots.


message 8: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher (Donut) | 245 comments The more of this I read, the more I like it, and the more convinced I am that Bryan Byrd would love it.

It is longer than I thought.

An excerpt:

... A long time afterwards I learned from Augusta that none of the three girls had believed my stories were true. To Augusta they seemed all the more precious because, as I had invented them, they were more mine than if fate had visited them upon me. To Alberta the part she didn’t believe was still enjoyable because she received some excellent hints. The only one outraged by my lies was the serious Ada. For all my efforts I achieved the result of that marksman who hit the bullseye, but of the target next to his.

And yet to a great extent those stories were true. I can’t at this point say to what extent because, as I had told them to many other women before the Malfenti daughters, through no wish of mine, they had changed and become more expressive. They were true inasmuch as I could not have told them in any other version.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments I am definitely starting this soon. I may end up taking it and The French Lieutenant's Woman out to the boat with me and get a fresh start on reading them, but I'm definitely going to start soon.


Darren (dazburns) | 760 comments Mod
I am just finishing up The Scarlet Pimpernel (with a different group) and should start Zeno either tonight or tomorrow...


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments Okay--finally! Started this yesterday or the day before, and got about 1/3 of the way through. I just finished up the section where he finally selects his wife. This is pretty sly, pretty funny in a droll sense. I like it


message 12: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher (Donut) | 245 comments Bryan wrote: "Okay--finally! Started this yesterday or the day before, and got about 1/3 of the way through. I just finished up the section where he finally selects his wife. This is pretty sly, pretty funny in ..."

That's exactly the terms I was thinking in, BB. Funny, but droll, and not hilarious.

I notice that you caught up to where I left off pretty fast, too. I better start back on this while I can.


message 13: by Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (last edited Jan 28, 2018 08:13AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments It's a little hard to show from a quote what makes this so funny--it's kind of a cumulative thing. Here, Zeno, who has recently been devoting himself to studying religion, is also contemplating having an affair. He doesn't work, being incompetent at it, and instead lives off the family firm. His wife, Augusta, has advised him that he should probably not go to the office anymore, as he really just interferes with the running of the firm.

"Augusta, who on this score felt a bit guilty, had an expression of sadness and regret. I then felt fine. But I was truly quite pure, because I spent the whole afternoon in my study [instead of chasing after the other woman] and could honestly believe I was definitively cured of any perverse desire. I was now reading the Apocalypse."

I doubt this short clip would mean much, out of context like that, but I laughed when I got to it. By this time, it's pretty well understood that Zeno is the exact sort of fellow who would be oblivious to the incongruity of his thoughts.


message 14: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 825 comments Sorry to be absent for so long -- I guess I won't get to this in January. Oh well...


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments I finished up last night in a bit of a reading jag--I liked the book, but I think maybe it was a bit long.


Darren (dazburns) | 760 comments Mod
I started this last night - better late than never eh?!


Darren (dazburns) | 760 comments Mod
I'm about a third of the way through now and like a few others on here I'm finding I'm liking it more and more as it goes along - the character of Zeno is becoming increasingly hilarious to me... :oD


message 18: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher (Donut) | 245 comments He doesn't say he's Jewish (in fact, there are indications that he's a lapsed Catholic), but doesn't this neurotic "seeing both sides at once" kind of personality seem particularly Jewish?


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments Christopher wrote: "He doesn't say he's Jewish (in fact, there are indications that he's a lapsed Catholic), but doesn't this neurotic "seeing both sides at once" kind of personality seem particularly Jewish?"

I told my dad I thought it reminded me of Woody Allen.


message 20: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher (Donut) | 245 comments I *almost* said Woody Allen myself.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments Christopher wrote: "I *almost* said Woody Allen myself."

I ran across a book by an almost unknown writer named Giuseppe Berto called Incubus at some library sale or another. This guy was like Zeno times 10. Like the son of Woody Allen and Richard Lewis on speed. If you can stand that sort of humor and intensity, it was really good--I remember laughing out loud a lot. Like Zeno, though, he may have went on a tad too long. Still, a great discovery.


Darren (dazburns) | 760 comments Mod
I finished this about a week ago, herewith I reproduce my review:
Amazing experience,being trapped inside the mind of Zeno! Exhausting too, as his thoughts were "all over the place" - phasing bewteen the extremes of flitting between non-sequiturs and settling into an obsessive rut on one subject. Some very funny passages (especially when he's trying to get married!), but interspersed with mundane passages and bits of philosophical musing. The uneven nature and the (I thought) unnecessary length hold this down to 3 stars though.


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