Saturday, September 02, 2006

what I'm reading - Michener's Texas

I've been reading James Michener's Texas, written in 1985. It was hanging around on my bookshelf as one of the many "based on factual history" fiction novels that he has written, and I wanted a book to read without exerting too much effort to find one. Besides, I've been curious about the cultural background of our current president. I am a fan of the Michener books because I am interested in history, yet I have trouble reading it without a slice of life perspective.

This is a history of Texas from ~500 years ago to the present. It starts with Spanish migration from Mexico on upward (they tried, but never really had an interest, given all the troubles that were involved). It includes migration from many countries (how the Texas population got built), war events, including Mexico and US (I'm just past the Civil War at this point).

The first Michener book I ever read was The Covenant (about South Africa). It had a similar sort of slice-of-life style to it. Both books have characters returning through historical events and, coincidentally, they all are connected in one way or another.

The only thing different that he did in the Texas book, which I have not seen in the others so far, is that he frames the history around a modern day lecture series on Texas, and the lectures they provide are the historical story. I wasn't comfortable with that at first, but have, by now (about 800 pages into it) gotten used to it, and actually like tracking the current day characters to their respective ancestries.

10/30/06: I finished this book in the beginning of October, then quickly moved on to read a book by Amy Tan, in preparation for attending a lecture that would be given by her. I thought this (Michener) book was good, 'though I found the ending nothing special. But, with further consideration, I could not recall the endings of any of the other Michener books I've read. It's almost like they are "a slice of history." Like there is not necessarily any meaning to "it all," it just is.