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Book Club catch-up, Steve Jones returns

Name: Steve Jones (ex-editor of The Mancunion’s Literature and Film Section)
Age: 21
Occupation: pre-MA parent moocher

Steve Jones, question-asker of Book Club supreme, what are you currently reading (present question notwithstanding)?

I am re-reading an accessible English prose version of Virgil’s Aeneid.

Where have you been reading it (train, bus, beach, bath, internet, juice carton…)?

A juice carton is quite a good idea. You could print instalments on the back and over a period of several decades you could get through War and Peace. And all it would cost you is thousands of pounds and type 2 diabetes! The reality is far less novel I’m afraid, I’ve just been lying around in my room in my pants eating crisps and flicking through it.

Is it great, just good, or not really worth the trees?

If anything is worth the paper it’s printed on it’s the Aeneid.

Any stand-out quotes that you can’t stop rattling around your brain now that they’re in there?

“I sing of arms and of the man” is the very famous opening line. It is of course full of fantastic lines and verse and quotes, but none really that lend themselves to being pasted over a picture of Virgil and posted on Facebook. And I’m pretty sure that’s the yardstick by which you judge a good quote.

Does it have any stylistic/formal tricks of note, or are you a man of Hemingwayian (yeah, it works) straightforward presentation?

It’s a poem so it’s nothing but stylistic tricks. It’s very readable though. I love Hemingway too.

Ever had any translation gripes? I imagine those would be fun to complain about. (I read mostly in American.)

They’re never gripes with classical works; I love the strange, forced pieces of translation. Venus’ oddly seductive call “hey there, soldiers” to her son and his men as she’s dressed as a skimpy Spartan girl is a personal favourite. While we’re on the subject, I also like the bit in Hammond’s translation of the Iliad when Priam berates his sons by calling them “lords of the dance-floor”.

Paper-book or e-back?

I’ve never read a book on a kindle or anything but it seems like a very good idea. It looks a bit lonely and soulless sitting on the shelf on its own though, compared to rows of dusty books. In the modern world I think efficiency has to win over charm.

Eavesdropping or eaves-reading?

I once read about 20 pages of a book over the shoulder of someone sitting next to me on the train. I like to think they didn’t notice, but they were probably excruciatingly annoyed at what was admittedly an excruciatingly annoying thing to do. It was a shit book anyway.

Amazon or dusty second-hand bookshop?

There’s a part of me that loves wondering around the second hand shops, finding nice editions of my favourite books and picking up cheap the essential reads. There’s also another much bigger part of me that likes getting books without having to leave my house.

And are you still asking people what they’re reading or have you grown tired of the answers?

It gets very difficult to think of questions after a while! But my Book Club blog is still around; I may start it up again sometime in the future. This is the first time I’ve been on the receiving end of the questions and it’s a lot harder I must say.

Thanks Steve!

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