Daily Archives: January 11, 2010

Arm Wrestling With Somerset Maugham

I’ve talked about it before on this blog; I am a slow reader. Couple that with my penchant for filling my non-work time with reading the rules to RPG’s and pursuing my other interests, and I don’t manage to read  more than 15 books a year. Most of my reading time is confined to T-Train and bus commutes to and from work.

This year I’ve resolved to read at least one W. Somerset Maugham novel. I love the movie version of the Razor’s Edge, so I thought I might start there. Well, trying to find an available copy made me feel like the kid in the old Merlin video game commercial from the 1970’s. Most of our copies were checked out by our obviously very discerning customers:

The Razor’s Edge / Maugham

Searches of Caliban and Townsend booksellers here in Oakland also resulted in failure.

I could have ordered one from one of the other libraries in our network, but being a creature of impulse, I decided to dig more deeply and start my exploration of Maugham with another title.  I settled on this one:

Ashenden, or: The British agent [by] W. Somerset Maugham

Judging by how little I have heard it mentioned over the years, I would classify this as one of Maugham’s lesser known works. It deals with espionage during WWI, and draws directly from the author’s personal experience working for British Intelligence in Europe during the war.

So I will read Ashenden and report back on my progress. If it goes quickly, I will track down the Razor’s Edge and read that next. It’s a humble start to the reading year, but I believe in setting attainable goals. Nothing breeds success like, well, success.



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