The Eternal Question: What Are You Reading? 4
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Now to FIlth. First let me say that I usually enjoy books that play with different time periods and different settings. This started to be the case until the time changes were so fast I forgot where we were and often who was speaking Then there was a section where he decides to take a drive (he is 80 years old and has never driven on the freeways before) So much is happening in this section and its so mixed up that I really wondered if this was an hallucination, or some dream he was having. It happened later when he was younger - I couldn't tell what was real. then the ending is tied up into a nice neat bow. Don't get me wrong the writing is outstanding and she kept me rivited to the page through the ending. But I think this would have worked better with a different narrative style
Was going to read the third "Lost Friends" but I find I am now rather tired of the whole cast. So one for later..
A Million Drops
by Victor del Árbol et al.
I finished There There yesterday and I'm still mulling it. I didn't love the pow wow vortex at the end, and I wanted him to do more with the idea of 'there there' as in a space that was there but is no longer there there. It's all the way through the book, but I don't understand how it (or if it) relates to the Pow Wow. I suspect it needs a re-read.
Now I'm reading Three Weeks in December which is a perfect vacation book.
Mir, yes about There, There. I appreciated the way everything moved toward this one event but I didn't think it totally worked. And like other books with multi-generational, multi character plots, some are so much more interesting than others. I don't want to say too much because people are still reading, but I could have been happy with a book just about Jacqui and Opal.
I do think the pow wow is about asserting presence where there has been absence, if that makes sense.
I finished The Barracks and god, it was good. It's about exactly what it says - life of a single Irish family living in a police barracks. It's thoughtful and slow moving and so so deep andrich. It's a very readerville/book balloon kind of book and I found myself thinking of LuAnn especially.
So shout out to you, girl. Find a copy. It's gorgeous.
Niven wrote two or three autobiographies, I'm not sure a
Anyway, good stuff and I very much look forward to whatever he might do next.
And now for something completely different, super summery and one from the TBR (from Lauren, originally), I'm reading Jill Eisenstadt's From Rockaway.
I continue to pick my way carefully through Dear Friend, from my life, I Write to you in your life which is extraordinarily painful and beautiful. If you are interested at all in writing and/or depression, including suicide ideation, this is your book. But it ain't easy.
To counteract that, I'm reading the new Jane Harper mystery Force of Nature. I really enjoyed the The Dry - soon to be made into a major motion picture. Loads more fun.
In fiction, I'm reading an ARC of Grenade, by Alan Gratz and dedicated to our own Niki Winters, which was fun to discover. He wrote my favorite middle school book of last year, Refugee, and this one is quite good, too. He is very good at building suspense.
My adult book is The Many Lives of Greta Wells. It's moody and includes time travel, so I'm all over that. If the main character were a seamstress, I'd think it was written for me.
I am reading V.S. Pritchett At Home and Abroad These are essays written in the 50s and 60s, about his travels. Obviously lots has cchanged, but I enjoy reading these accounts of travelers from different times. Ive learned quite a bit of history that I didn't know about (like the 1750 earthquake and tsunami that destroyed much of Portugals coast) Im now reading about his time in the States.
He has another set of essays much later, Lasting Impressions which are more literary critic type selections.
I read the Kondo book pretty soon after it came out. I still worry about whether my socks resent me, but it taught me a much better way to put t-shirts in a drawer.
I finished Excellent Women. Though I loved the humor throughout the book, it didn't prepare me for the disappointment I felt at the ending. The novel's theme foretold it, of course, and the strictures of Mildred's time and place pretty much guaranteed it would end as it did, but I had so hoped she would break free.
Now I've begun -- and am enjoying -- Appointment in Arezzo.
She lost me at her empathetic description of the existential pain of socks forced to live balled up in a drawer.
But really, I think her whole book could be summed up as "only keep the things that bring you joy," which is good advice. And, it was nice to have the green light to shred most of the papers I've been afraid to get rid of.
Now reading Swimming Lessons which feels like the perfect read to take on a road trip to the mountains. Not sure why.
And then I'll have to read ANOTHER book someone picked for book club that is going to be a terrible choice! I don't just pick books for book club that sound like fun reads, I pick books that will garner discussion. So I hate it when someone picks a horror book or a Mindy Kaling book. Just because it's fun to read doesn't make it a book club book!
On to Confessions of the Fox, the many blurbs for which completely entranced me. I hate reading e-galleys with footnotes, but I'll make an exception for this because it's fun.
And I gave the sequel a go and it was unreadable. So much for that.
I read American for Beginners which I received as an early reviewers book from LT. It was sweet, a bit like those #1 Home in India for old people books but a bit edgier. In this, a widowed lady from Calcutta comes to America to find her gay estranged son. It was good but close to breaking my new rule which is no books about brown people written by white people for a while.
Force of Nature was a great sequel.
Next up, the new Pat Barker The Silence of the Girls.
I'm really tempted to read The Dry just because it sounds super entertaining, though I have more than enough books in front of me without checking something else out of the library. Then again, when did that ever stop me?...
Loafed around in the heat all day yesterday and finished Confessions of the Fox, which was a wonderfully out-there debut novel—ambitious as hell, smart, and fun. At its surface level the book is a twinned narrative involving a discovered manuscript and a contemporary academic who annotates it heavily (and personally) as he transcribes it. But there's a whole lot more going on, particularly in the manuscript, which is ostensibly a biography of the early 18th-century English folk hero Jack Sheppard—who was the model for Macheath in John Gay's The Beggar's Opera and later Brecht and Weill's Threepenny Opera—and his prostitute/moll Edgworth Bess. But aside from being a rollicking retelling, it's also a queering of the legend: in Jordy Rosenberg's retelling Sheppard is a trans man (as is his modern-day professor Voth), Bess is Southeast Asian, and one of the main characters is a gay black man. But beyond even that set of identity politics, which would be innovative and entertainingly loaded on its own (Rosenberg is a trans man as well), there is a lot of really interesting subtext—on colonialism, big pharma, academia, archival authority, racial and gender identity and rights, industrialism, commodification, medical ethics, slavery, and I'm sure I'm missing something else. You get the idea, though.
For the most part Rosenberg pulls off this hyper-intersectionality, and mainly he keeps the energy rolling along. Voth's personal footnoted drama can wears a little thin at parts, although I'm sure it was written to, and there is some overly neat—and slightly wtf-inducing—consummation of Voth's intellectual odyssey toward the very end. But this is a fun, thoughtful, prickly read. Rosenberg absolutely goes big here, and it's worth your time if you're up for it. (This is not, obviously, a beach read, unless this sounds like your idea of a beach read—it is mine, or would be if I ever got within ten miles of a beach—in which case, have at it.)
Now on to some slightly more straightforward fare, because everyone seems to love it (and it's super gulp-worthy so far), Jane Harper's The Dry.
I really liked the new Pat Barker The Silence of the Girls even though it might make you think of the Iliad so differently, you can't go back to it. Like Wide Sargasso Sea and Jean Eyre. You know all those Trojan women that were captured? War sucks.
Most of the story is told by Briseis, the Trojan queen who becomes the property of Achilles and then Agamemnon, causing Achilles to stop fighting and the resulting death of Patroclus etc etc. But then there are chapters told by Achilles and I don't know, they feel a bit cheaty - or like filler. It would have been awesome if the whole book had been from a woman's pov.
Still, it's Pat Barker.
I am taking an online class through Future Learn/University of Edinburgh on how to Read a Novel. Not that I don't know. But it's fun. The novels we are reading are all short listers from the James Tait fiction prize . First up White Tears which is really so much about white people, it's crazy making. But I can't put it down.
There was a good interview with her in the Harvard Gazette though, of which this bit was gratifying:
GAZETTE: You are a mother of two. In 10 years you have produced three novels and two short-story collections. Can you talk about your process and how you manage work and family?
GROFF: I understand that this is a question of vital importance to many people, particularly to other mothers who are artists trying to get their work done, and know that I feel for everyone in the struggle. But until I see a male writer asked this question, I’m going to respectfully decline to answer it.
I finished Three Weeks in December -- the last bit was a bit of a struggle because I knew what would happen with one character and the other made me anxious. But, I'm still glad I read it -- interesting situations she set up in this novel.
I then read in quick succession Train Dreams and Daisy Miller. Both were excellent. Now, I'm reading Heart Berries which feels brilliant but I'm only about 10 pages in.
Daisy Miller was a great read, and my first James (which is funny considering all the books I've read with James as a character). I want to read more James, so which novel should I go to next? Portrait of a Lady? Wings of a Dove? Bostonians? Lauren? DG? Any suggestions? I have access to all his novels, so don't feel limited by my list.
Just my two cents.
I am dying to read Heart Berries, especially because the author is going to be here in October.
I am really enjoying White Tears. Has anyone read this?
Not sure what's up next. Maybe catch up on some New Yorkers.
I also quite like The Beast in the Jungle, though it's just a long story, I guess. It's NOT a delight to read, but I suppose part of the thrill of it is having gotten through it.
Random thought: Heart Berries is a terrible title but maybe we are actually finally out of word combinations.
"heart berry" is the literal English translation of a Salish word for strawberry. In fact, I think the Iroquois and the Cree also use words that would be translated the same. I remember a guide at the Smithsonian Native American museum talking about it -- it stuck with me, so the book's title didn't faze me at all.
The novel plays with ideas of authenticity and reality, privilege, race, appropriation, and the long long history of the control and incarceration of black bodies.
I started the second book in the series American War, a dystopian novel about a post 21st Civil War America where the southern states have seceded due to their dependence on fossil fuels. It's creepy and seems totally plausible. Again, a novel I'd not have picked up on my own but fascinating.
Here is the link
My classmates are from all over the world - which is cool - and with all different interests and levels of reading. There is some real bullshit comments - some people are eager to tell you this isn't real literature and they haven't even read the book. But that seems to be at a minimum.
I noticed that you are reading The Great Believers. I am thrilled to see Rebecca get so much attention although I think the book good not great. It feels like its written by someone who never knew anyone who died of AIDS, which it was. Its very well meaning and very well researched and I totally get where she's going and why - it just didn't totally convince me. i'll be interested to know what you think.
I just finished Heart Berries -- I recommend it.
Not sure what I'm reading next. I considering Go, Went, Gone.
And, because I'm all impulse, I just joined the novel class. It looks do-able and I've read White Tears already, so I have a head start.
>52 laurenbufferd: written by someone who never knew anyone who died of AIDS It's a weird dividing line, isn't it? But so major. I got into a beef with my entire Projects in Digital Archives class when I was in grad school a few years ago--at one point the instructor had everyone read a chapter from Sarah Schulman's The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination pointing up the need for archiving so that people who post-date the AIDS crisis can get an inkling of what it might have been like. And almost everyone in the class thought that she was being condescending--"Of course we understand what it was like!" All these kids, the oldest one maybe young 30s. And I couldn't help myself, I said, "No, no you can't possibly have any idea." Which... may not have endeared me to some of them. But I stand by my point.
Now you've all got me wondering what The Great Believers will really bring.
I haven't read The Great Believers, so I can't really comment on the book. But if the criteria for being able to write about something is personal experience, we're all sunk. It sounds to me like you all think whatever she was aiming for, she missed.
And Nancy, I do think it's worth reading. Just because it missed the mark doesn't mean its a bad book or not worth pursuing.
Now I'm back to nonfiction, reading Kevin Young's Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News.
Almost 50 pages in and it's clear that Bunk falls well on the side of being an academic book—clever and informative, but also exhaustively researched and dense—so maybe not a good book for my commute (plus it's a 550-page hardcover, which gets tough on the wrists when I'm standing on the train). So I'm probably going to keep it as a home book, mostly, and leaven it with lighter stuff for the road. Serendipitously my library hold of The Selected Poems of Donald Hall came in, and that should be just right for this week.
I am in such a happy fiction place. The Edinburgh class has me reading things I ordinarily wouldn't - half-way through American War which is interesting and cool and falling I love with Attrib which I'd have thought was too twee in reading the description but adore. this is definitely a Nancy, Miriam, SBL, Lisa book It is very playful and very tender - not quite sure how these stories hit both notes but they do.
I watched Nanette again yesterday on Netflix and it somehow was the perfect combination.
I do think it needs more maps, and if EVER there was a book that should have see-through plastic overlay maps and timelines bound in (like the old World Books had for the human body), THIS IS IT.
Donald Hall is so Robert-Louis-Stevensonish, which is good in measured doses.
Still reading Donald Hall—not challenging, but lots of snow imagery that's nice on a 90˚ subway.
I am almost finished with Dear Friend, From My Life, I Write to You which is is very heavy, about Li's own struggle with depression and suicidal ideation and the writers who she is most drawn to. I am also reading the first Philip Kerr thriller in the Berlin series March Violets. There are so many characters, I honestly can't keep my Himmlers straight from my Goebbels, but I'm enjoying it. What is most interesting is the day-to-day ordinary life under fascism. Definite overlaps with today.
I finished American War and sheesh, that was a good one. I read so little speculative fiction - it always amazes me, people's imagination and ability to create a total new world. What was cool about this was how much the novel was informed by El Akkad's journalism and his coverage of the Egyptian Spring, Guantanamo, and Black Lives Matter. That said, this is not for the squeamish. There is quite a bit of torture.
I'm not reading much right now, but I'm listening to Knucklehead on my way into work and My Man Jeeves on my way home. Knucklehead is excellent, but the the topic (race relations) is infuriating (I yell a lot, and understand the protagonist's desire to do serious harm to those who surround him) so I keep it contained to my morning. I've avoided Jeeves until now, and I shouldn't have because its delightful and funny and super relaxing.
Next to my bed is Mind of the Raven and I am making small progress with it (a chapter or two a night). The author drives me a bit nuts frankly (I'm apparently alone on that bench, the reviewers love him) but the topic is fascinating. And I picked up and just barely started The Man Who Was Thursday. I'd never hear of it before, I associated Chesterton with what I assumed were cozy mysteries (Father Brown), but this is something else entirely and really quite fabulous so far.
I've decided I should make more of an effort to read down some of the books that people have given me, either as gifts or offloading things from their collections or hand-sells from publishers—people have given me a LOT of books and that's as good a reading challenge as any. Right now I'm reading Tiny Crimes: Very Short Tales of Mystery and Murder, which the publicist from Catapult sent me. It's international noir flash fiction, which is a great idea, but I'm thinking flash is just not my thing. I think flash is really, really hard to do well. And especially given the challenge of setting up a little thriller or crime story in a couple of pages... Some of these get it, but I feel like a lot are near misses. It also doesn't help that because the physical book got lost in my office, I'm reading an e-galley and the formatting kind of sucks—too much electronic page flipping to get through a single story, with these weird graphic things in between. But it goes quickly and I'm almost done, and I have to say I think it's a cool idea, even if the execution fell a little short for me.
>72 mkunruh: Mir what is it about the Raven author that drives you nuts? I just saw the oddest esoteric bird/art/history book on the giveaway shelves at work and passed it over, but now I'm thinking I want to take it even though I'll probably never read it. One of those things that just paging through it once in a while might make it worth having it take up space on my shelves.
>73 cindydavid4: I don't think MJ's ever been on any of the post-RV forums, has she?
That author is a bit nuts. Can you believed he climbed some those trees?
I liked March Violets. It took a really somber unexpected turn - I don't want to give anything away - and at first, I wasn't sure about it but by the end, it felt right, even though ti drastically changed the tone of the book. I am going to definitely read the next in the series.
And now for something completely different Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures.
Yes, hospice is oddly peaceful. At this point, aunts and uncles are around and there's lot of sitting around joking and telling stories.
Mary B: A Novel: An untold story of Pride and Prejudice
Couldn't resis this look at the story through the eyes of the third sister. So far so good.
I am currently listening to an absolutely beautiful audiobook of Rebecca, narrated by Anna Massey. It's going at the very top of my book-listening-to experiences along with Juliet Stevenson reading Mrs Dalloway. Oh, those ladies with those cut-glass accents...
I haven't read the novel in a long while, and I had forgotten how intensely plants and gardens and forests figure in the story. Just pages and pages of elaborately detailed descriptions that build the settings of Manderley and Monte Carlo and wherever the de Winters end up--and never a word wasted. It's quite a feat of "show don't tell," both in world building and character building. What kind of nineteen-year-old (or twenty or however old she is) can so precisely describe every single growing thing around her and be so exquisitely sensitive to every leaf and petal and vine--be frightened by the boldness of red rhododendrons?
Someone I knew would call people "human exposed nerve endings," which doesn't really make any sense but you know exactly what it means. And that's the second Mrs. de Winter--a human exposed nerve ending. She's just oppressively observant.
I love the movie, but her character is terribly underserved. All the focus is on her naïveté and timidity, and the way she feels almost unbearably exposed to everything is played as nervous insecurity. It really doesn't help that one of the drippiest actresses ever plays her. Sorry, Joan. I am Team Olivia.
Anyway, it is FAB.
I am TEAM REBECCA all the way. I think it's a genius book. I read it every few years.
I am re-reading Transcription because I read it so quickly, I think I missed a few things and also because it's just pleasure. I am also reading Shirley Collins' memoir All on the Downs which is quite wonderful - all the bits before and after her time with Alan Lomax. If you are at all interested in British folk music, this is a great read. Just a wee bit of gossip, mostly about songs and nature.
*Tho I do remember how I felt reading Geraldine Brooks March, and how she changed papa March to someone I didn't recognize. So I get it. Just have to keep remembering its all about story telling!
Everyone should read it.
I have never been able to get through a Sebastian Faulks novel but I got one from the Early Readers program here at LT and I'm trying to do right by it. Paris Echo. An academic with a secret and a young illegal immigrant from Algiers meet in a very unlikely way in Paris. I don't quite believe either of them - it feels very far fetched and you can hear wheels turning as you read. I should probably just put it down and admit Faulks is not for me. But he's very popular.
I don't think the touchstones thingy is working.
I was mostly frustrated, glad it was short, and released from reading other novels by him.
Still, thank you Library Thing for the opportunity.
Now rereading Circe because I haven't been able to read anything else..!
Now reading Jeanette Haien's The All of It: A Novel because it was on some lit list of great short novels and I did the impulse library click and here it is.
Oh and now I'm totally stoked for the Atkinson—I've got an e-galley in hand, so that should be up at the top of my pile soon.
Were there such a list it would include "One Hundred Years of Solitude" the reading of which, for me, would require marooning on a desert island with no literary competition.
Some but not all Proust
Capital by Karl Marx
If so many of us are reading the Atkinson, maybe we should have a mini discussion - just a few days of sharing thoughts. Or not. I just miss those (even tho I am in two very active RL ones)
I am reading a kind of mystery I guess - there's a missing person at least. The Western Wind It takes place in a small English village at the end of the 15th century and is told by the village priest. It's absolutely without tweeness or even the kind of overly minute research=y details these kinds of period mysteries often have. I like it, I think.
I've never even tried Delillo. Or Thomas Pynchon, who for some reason I always think of together.
Western Wind sounds interesting -- I just put a hold on it at the library. When it's published and arrives at the library I'll be first in line!
One thing that struck me though (especially since Delillo just came up) is how ugh, curated the taste of the characters is. They talk about Delillo and Pynchon and god, Renata Adler (I MEAN) and all of their music is juuuussst so - Kendrick Lamar and Gram Parsons and on and on - and it's a thing I sometimes hate in books, when the author can't help himself but put all his own TLS/Pitchfork sensibilities into a book. They're AWFUL PEOPLE, I need them to have AWFUL TASTE.
I just read a bit of an obscure one, The All of It, which was recommended by somebody or other as a great short novel alongside a few others I've really loved like William Maxwell's So Long, See You Tomorrow. And it didn't disappoint! Lovely story with all the best ingredients: mid-'80s Ireland, a priest and a funeral, complicated love, rainy weather, and fishing—which all come together in a deeply satisfying tale about the forms unexpected good fortune can take. Some really beautiful writing, as well. Recommended to anyone with a soft spot for any of the above; you know who you are.
Now I think I'll read Sigrid Nunez's The Friend, which I keep opening on my iPad and not reading. I've heard mixed reviews, but it's got a big dog in it and I feel like one of those today.
I like The Western Wind but I must not be paying enough attention because I realized tast night the chapters were going back in time so I need to start it again. Face.
Your whole house smells of dog, says someone who comes to visit. I say I'll take care of it. Which I do by never inviting that person to visit again.
I think also it's just a matter of the Renata Adleresque tone not doing it for me. It doesn't when Renata Adler does, either.
Now on to Patrick deWitt's newest (yay!), French Exit, and Collaborative Library Design: From Planning to Impact, which I'm reviewing for LJ (and moderating a panel on at our Design Institute in Minneapolis later this month, so I might as well learn something about it).
A phrase that I would put good money on never appearing anywhere, ever again.
On to French Exit, which is whizzing by; I read half of it in like eight minutes.
Only 30 pages in, there is this supremely fucking perfect monologue by one of the dicier characters.
Mick stood on the dock watching as forklifts unloaded pallets into the Queen Isabella’s delivery bay, to be picked up by other forklifts and cube-waltzed into her belly before being conveyed to the storage rooms below. He was still a little drunk, but he was an expert at working under the influence, any influence, for any length of time. He could work for thirty hours straight and put himself into a waking trance, drunk, stoned, or high, and never drop anything or miss a detail. His hands and his brain had struck an agreement: his brain did what it wanted, and his hands ran the show. That was how he survived this job.
He shoved his hand into a box of asparagus on a waiting pallet. The stalks were damp. Any wetter and he’d have to reject them. He nodded at the forklift driver. It was almost five o’clock in the morning. The sky over the harbor was the color of eggplant. Inland, the horizon showed streaks of eggshell and cream. Everything looked like food to Mick; not edible, but in need of attention, quality control, prep. The air smelled like diesel exhaust. He felt as if he’d never be allowed to lie down and sleep again. His eyelids crackled with dry sand. His mouth was so parched he sucked his own tongue.
Az Isten verje meg… he was thinking in Hungarian, he was so tired. He allowed himself to slump, standing with his eyes closed for five long, ticking seconds, a micro-nap, as his brain rebooted itself. Then he straightened up and got back to work. A pallet of broccoli came by. He thrust a hand into a random box and felt the springy green firmness of a flower. In four days, it would be limp and browning. But for now, it was perfect. Thank God. He hated sending broccoli back; he always needed every stalk. Broccoli was the cornerstone of the plating garnishes, a staple of the salad bar, a key player in the vegetable-of-the-day medleys.
He had a good idea of the Isabella’s menu, but didn’t know yet precisely what it entailed. He’d find out soon enough. He had a meeting with the executive chef at 0730. Normally, the job of overseeing the deliveries was done by the storekeeper, but this cruise was small and just a one-off, so they hadn’t hired one. Mick was one of three executive sous-chefs, working directly under the executive chef in either the one main restaurant galley or the buffet galley, he didn’t know yet which. He
was usually a station chef, a line cook; this was a promotion. He suspected it was only temporary, since he was filling in for someone else, but if he did a good job, it wouldn’t go unnoticed. Nothing ever did on a cruise ship.
Anyway, it was nice to be outside, on land. He’d spend enough time in the belly of this ship in the next two weeks. He might as well get all the fresh air he could in the meantime. Not that this air was particularly fresh. He rummaged around and pulled an oyster out of a box marked WASHINGTON STATE. He fished a shucking knife out of his jacket and opened it, slurped the sweet-briny nugget from its bed. He scowled at the forklift driver as if it were possibly bad and shucked another one, making the guy wait. The second was as energizing as the first. He nodded at the driver and the pallet moved on.
His hand snaked into a box on the next pallet and encountered a neatly packed row of rotund things with rough prickly skin and hard spiky tops. They felt like tiny magueys grafted onto the tops of miniature barrel cacti. They were fresh, firm and full of turgor. He thought of aloe, with its thin green slime, good for kitchen burns. But this wasn’t a succulent. Then all at once his mouth was filled with the memory of a fruit: juicy, tart, sweet, fibrous. He felt a powerful craving for grilled chunks, with pork, soy sauce, something spicy. Pineapples. The cruise was going to Hawaii: of course. He waved the pallet on.
The Isabella rose sleekly from the water, much smaller than the last ship he’d worked on. That had been a five-month stint on a vast white behemoth that accommodated four thousand passengers, most of them Americans who had opted for the package that included unlimited sodas from dispensers that read a chip in their ship-issued plastic cups. The ship itself mirrored the people on it, oversized, out of proportion, expelling ground-up food waste and treated sewage into the ocean, spewing colossal a clouds of exhaust into the sea air, a giant pissing, shitting, farting beast.
While the kitchens in its massive belly disgorged ton after ton of French fries, pizza, and grilled slabs of steak upward to be chewed and swallowed and deposited into smaller, individual massive bellies, belowdecks the foreign-born, mostly Third World crew worked long, hard days, slept little, ate little, gave themselves over to keeping this untenable system, the dream vacation, going.
But this ship was a different animal entirely. He had learned from the brochure the office manager had handed him that the Queen Isabella had originated in a more elegant, scaled-down era, before cruise ships got put on steroids and turned into so-called “floating cities.” She’d been built in France in the early 1950s, renovated and refurbished in the 1970s, sold to Cabaret Cruises, an American company, and re-renovated and re-outfitted in 2002. She had just two raked funnels and only five decks from the waterline up, and carried a fraction of the thousands of passengers they crammed aboard those supersized monsters. Her lifeboats hung from davits, low down. Her curved stern swooped high over the water. Her bow rose at a sharp angle.
Mick had been told very little about this cruise, but he knew that it was the Isabella’s last before she was retired: a two-week cross-Pacific jaunt that would take them to three ports of call in the Hawaiian Islands followed by a reverse trip back. The tone was meant to echo and imitate her first cruise in 1957: retro menu, classic cocktails, cabaret singers, jazz bands, string quartets, old movies, blackjack and baccarat in the casino. Everyone would be expected to dress for dinner. There was no Internet service, and no one under sixteen was permitted on board.
All of this Mick approved of, not because he hated contemporary music, or kids, or the Internet, or informal clothes, but because he loved cooking the classic old dishes from vintage menus: oysters Rockefeller, lobster Newburg, clams casino, steak Diane. He liked aspic. He liked Hollandaise sauce and champagne sherbet and avocado halves stuffed with shrimp salad; he liked real cocktails, martinis and highballs. He romanticized that time of honestly fancy food and drink, back before farm-to-table became an elitist idea claimed by the rich instead of what the peasants ate, before the magic tricks of molecular gastronomy with its emulsions and foams, before “craft cocktails” in Mason jars made with infusions and smoke and fey garnishes.
Growing up in Budapest at the end of the twentieth century had been something like having a 1950s American youth. It felt familiar to him, cozy and civilized. So he didn’t dread this cruise as much as he’d dreaded the last one. Two weeks of making food he knew, and then he’d finally get to see where things stood with Suzanne. His hand was shoved deep inside of a box of onions, looking for the dry-papery rasp that meant they were fresh. He sniffed his fingers. There was a trace of mold. That was bad, but the onions felt okay. He’d get someone to sort them and use up the moldering ones fast.
Another wave of exhaustion penetrated to his bones. He waited for it to recede. It didn’t. He stumbled and caught the edge of a pallet to keep from falling. Automatically, his hand found the inside of a box. Wet, slimy, and jagged. He pulled his hand back: broken egg. There was never just one. He was too tired to care, and it smelled fresh enough on his hand. He waved it through. The albumen tightened around his fingers as it dried. He fished a sanitary wipe from a pocket and wiped his hand clean, then fished out and put on the latex gloves he should have been wearing all along.
Another pallet: iceberg lettuce. Images of wedge salads with bacon and Roquefort dressing rose in his mind,
antic, dancing, plates tilted and spinning. He squeezed a few heads. They had crunchy heft and enough watery give. Okay then, on they went. Then his hand was inspecting a T-bone steak, prodding, massaging, pinching gently. He sniffed his latex-covered fingers, inhaling the mineral tang of flesh and blood. The water shimmered with fresh, early sunlight. A pelican was strutting along the dock. Everything kept closing in on his eyes, zooming dark then expanding again. Sleep, his brain commanded. He needed a catnap before his meeting with the executive chef, whose name he hadn’t been told yet. Otherwise he’d be incoherent and crazed-looking on his first day of work.
I took so many little notes! Some of his sentences have words flipped into a more formal order than others and it gives the book a tiny bit of a (dark dark dark) fairytale quality and then it takes a supernatural turn that confirms that (his last book was almost a flat-out fairytale, so it's not a complete surprise). I laughed out loud quite a bit (that bit where Frances and Malcolm are both calling Madeleine "the witch on the boat" had me almost in laughing tears).
I thought the ending packed a wallop, even if you basically know it's coming...and it has a beautiful final sentence, the kind of thing you suspect he wrote the book for.
So if you see a little less activity from me here, rest assured I'm reading like a fiend, but playing my cards (pages) a little closer to the vest than usual.
I also read (while on vacation) April North's White Shotgun which I thoroughly enjoyed. She's a great writer.
And then some lady in the Bronx loaded me up with books to bring home.
I loved the Ferrante and can't wait to read the next one. I've never quite read anything like it - its both raw and refined. Hard to believe the young people she is writing about were just kids, the violence and deprivation they experience makes it seem like they are much much older.
, I really enjoyed that mystery - I've never been sure why she wasn't better known. She's a very good plotter and Ana Gray is a great character. looking at her website, it appears she writes some historical fiction as well, and is pretty active in television production. I'm going to plan on reading more.
I happened to have a book from the Booker long list hanging about so started that. From a Low and quiet Sea
Lisa, I completely get where you're at with wanting the kittens re-homed, but she is a beauty.
on edit: I'm enjoying Transcription but it is a bit odd. I feel like I'm holding my breath waiting for the twist/direction. Plus, she really needs to move out of WWII.
Now that Donal Ryan is no longer on the Booker list, must I keep reading From a Low and Quiet Sea? It's awfully generic.
Also pleased that Canadians are represented and that 4/6 authors are women.
I'm interviewing Oyinkan Braithwaite and reading her book My Sister, the Serial killer.
by Kate Atkinson.
Short story reading is going well, and I'm actually kind of enjoying my method of reading the first five or six in each collection with the intention of coming back to finish later. I'd say coming back to the ones I loved, but I'm such a completist I'll probably get to them all eventually, though there are about 20 on my real and virtual pile right now. So far most are good and a few really excellent, one (John Edgar Wideman's American Histories) I didn't really connect with but I'll probably go back to it as well to see if a little time and space and not reading on an airplane make me feel differently. And because there's nothing more fun than making my life more difficult, I've added to of my own picks onto the long list—one, Josh Weil's The Age of Perpetual Light, on the basis one of the stories which I read long ago in One Story and adored. I'm reading that one now, and still adoring that first story in the collection—interesting to see if the rest of it holds up to the lead-in.
Oh, I am listening to Dry by Jane Harper, mainly because of you folks, and that's fairly riveting, but even that got too much this week. I switched to The Fifth Season, hoping for something a little less real life. But I might go back to Jeeves or even Tamora Peirce -- something that requires causes 0 anxiety.
*Seriously, there but for the current grace of god, but oh my word it's nasty. All those boys who made our life hell are sure determined to keep on doing so, aren't they?
Speaking of buying books, a sad reminder Robin Williams rare books up for auction.
There are one or two I'd like to have, for the pleasure of owning them, and as a memorial to Robin. Speaking of, has anyone read the new bio of him?
I've never Facebook'd, either. I created an account when my unit's nurses wanted to use it for group communication, but I never got into it. That UI is so ugly it hurts my eyes.
I am trying to figure out Twitter (for the umpteenth time).
I was a fan. I actually cried when he committed suicide. But I haven't felt any pull to read the biography -- celebrity biographies being a genre I'm inherently suspicious of.
In the car, I've been listening to Sharp: The Women Who Made An Art of Having an Opinion and old Stephen Colbert audiobooks - to avoid NPR and the desire to hit people with my car.
Even though I'm skipping around in my short fiction collections right now, I did read all of The Age of Perpetual Light, by Josh Weil, in its entirety because it was a library book. It's not actually in the running for the award I'm reading for, but I wanted to give it a look because I saw the lead story in One Story a couple of years ago and fell in love with it, and have been waiting for this collection to come out. And I'm still in love with the story—"No Flies, No Folly" is gorgeous and haunting—and I think a bunch of others were very strong as well. Weill's range is impressive, from the dawn of the 20th century to a speculative story set in the nearish future, each one loosely structured around the theme of light. While I didn't think every one was a mad hit like the first, it was a good collection and definitely worth reading.
Pat, I'm thinking about your question. I'm still sifting through the 20-odd books I have in my pile, and some of the bests haven't yet settled out for me. A few standout stories would be:
"No Flies, No Folly," as mentioned above, The Age of Perpetual Light
"The Hare's Mask" in All That Is Left Is All That Matters by Mark Slouka Another story in the book, "The Dog," is possibly one of the one of the most disturbing, or at least most affecting, stories I've ever read—but disturbing on an emotional, gut level rather than a sensational one. and I thought really skillfully done. It pushed the collection up another notch in my eyes (I already thought pretty well of the book to begin with). I'm still thinking about it days later. I'm also its perfect target audience, so I don't know that it would have the same affect on other folks. But it was a knockout—felt both visceral and allegorical at the same time—and it literally made me sob.
"J'Ouvert, 1996" in A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley
"Spiderhole" in Zolitude by Paige Cooper
"The Finkelstein 5" in Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
"The Musical Vanity Boxes" in Evening in Paradise by Lucia Berlin
And I know there are others, but I don't have the books in front of me and my memory is just woeful. Well, that and I've read half to three-quarters of 15 collections in the past few weeks.
One of the things we always say when tragedy occurs is that Art will come out of it -- and that's usually the case. The early 80s phase of the AIDS crisis laid waste to that theory, though, primarily because it killed off practically all the artists it most profoundly affected. So the wake (ugh, not an intended pun) of that has been filled with, hmmm, "survivor art," which The Great Believers most definitely is. I do think the book is a little too long -- and the more contemporary Paris plot doesn't really work until the very end, and feels like a stretch for a resolution, a real effort to give someone in the story a relatively happy ending. But the 80s/90s plot does ring true in a lot of ways; it's the exact time I started losing people (86-90 was tough), so it was easy to cry "foul" when I felt like Makkai got things wrong (relatively rare, but enough to make me wince) and be genuinely moved when she nailed it.
There's a bit of Hamlet-mentioning( by a mostly minor character) that weaves through the book and I kept wondering what Makkai was doing with that (because it's not got a Hamlet plot) and then there's a very off-handed whopper towards the end that explains it -- it's a bit too on the nose, but it certainly brought the tears up.
It is the kind of book, though, where everyone has a name like Fiona or Yale or Julian or Nico or Cecily or Nicolette (Frenchly pronounced) or Asher or whathaveyou. And then the closest things to bad guys are just named Charlie and Bill, so there you go.
Mixed response, I guess.
I finished Old in Art School and golly, it's good. Its so candid and funny and thought provoking. And sent me off in a million directions with lists of artists to look at and books to read.
I am interviewing Oyinkan Braithewaite My Sister, the Serial Killer today. Did I say I didn't like this? At first, it felt a bit hollow to me - all surface, no depth. A week or two later, I think it's a bit better - there is something underneath that skin of smooth writing, something much creepier and weirder. Are the sisters heroes or monsters? And it very much toys with Western expectations of African writers which isn't deliberate but I think is interesting.
I am still reading a bit of Charles Baxter Through the Safety Net and I just started The Electric Womanwhich is about a woman who joins the circus after her mother has a stroke. DG, have you read this?
I'm now on to The Mars Room, which feels like my people right off the bat. I've never been to prison--really.
One thing I didn't think came across was that in my experience anyway, very few of my gay friends were really "out" all the way - many had come to NYC so that they could live a bit more openly but were still not out to family and friends back home. The worst years for me were 84-87 - there was so much fear and denial. My best friend's parents were there for him in important ways but I was stunned when I read his Midwest obit and they cited the cause of death as complications from childhood polio.
But this was a book more about surviving that time in some ways. I don't think she is successful there but I got a lot out of it and am inclined to applaud the attempt.
That said, recently a friend died suddenly of heart failure in the middle of the night. He was diagnosed in 1989. He was in early 60's. I know in my heart this is another AIDS related tragedy: decades of medication, years of stress and poor health habits related to chronic depression. He overcame much of that initial sense of doom and lived with a lot of joy in the years since that time. But when I heard he died recently, it brought it all back.
Sorry to ramble.
I'm reading the first Ana Grey -- North of Montana and although I'm having trouble with all forms of sexism these days, Smith does a good job of showing Ana's difficulty navigating the patriarchy (so to speak). I'm also still listening to Dry and still enjoying it. And very excited that The Long Take appeared in my mailbox yesterday (I forgot I ordered it). And so it will be next.
First thing I did, though, was finish up Collaborative Library Design: From Planning to Impact for an overdue review. And what a page turner! Well... not exactly, but it was a nice library architecture book, an overview of what it looks like when collaborative design works and why you want to make that happen. Not in my usual wheelhouse, though I do some work in and around library design and architecture awards for work—my trip to Minneapolis was for one of our Design Institute, which was all architects talking about projects and challenges and such. It was a good palate cleanser, though.
Now on to an anthology I'm blurbing for a friend, Fierce: Essays By and About Dauntless Women, which is both timely and really different from a lot of what I've seen lately.
Michael Wolff's book has an air of gossip but it's very readable. I thought the most readable, concise book for those who aren't news junkies that covers Trump Inc. from before the campaign until after the election is Isikoff's and Corn's (of the ones I've read, so far). Woodward's book was along those lines, also, but it's more about White House shenanigans.
Unger's book has the best and deepest investigative reporting about Trump's mob and Russian GRU connections and his generally dicey/criminal finances going back to the '80's. It's *amazing* journalism. David Cay Johnston has been writing (and trying to warn about the Trumps) for years, and his two books about the money trails are very good, too.
However, IMO, the best one I've read, so far, is Greg Miller's. It covers the election and ensuing two years, generally, with a concentration on the circumstances and results of Trump's worst and most destructive policies and decisions. Miller is a Washington Post Pulitzer Prize winner with some of the deepest resources of all the investigative reporters who have been writing about this Trump travesty.
I just started Michael Lewis' new one, and it is fascinating. It's all about the Trump "administration's" complete ineptness, and their purging of the State Department and other key agencies. No matter how awful you might think things are with this gang, Lewis' book will shock you.
The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election ~ Malcolm Nance
The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West ~ Malcolm Nance
Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News ~ Clint Watts
Fire and Fury: Inside the White House ~ Michael Wolff
Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump ~ Michael Isikoff and David Corn
Fear: Trump in the White House ~ Bob Woodward
House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia ~ Craig Unger
It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America ~ David Cay Johnston
The Making of Donald Trump ~ David Cay Johnston
The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy ~ Greg Miller
The Fifth Risk ~ Michael Lewis
Nancy, on some days, just reading tweets makes me want to take a nap. On Thursday, a person I followed tweeted about the ND Senate decision not to change the requirement that ID needs to provide a street address (many Reserve residents don't have regular street names, and use PO boxes as their addresses):
(from Washington Post)
Native Americans were widely credited with delivering Heitkamp’s last win, which set in motion a six-year legal war of attrition pitting the GOP-run statehouse in Bismarck against tribal leaders and voting rights groups. Census Bureau records show 46,000 Native Americans live in North Dakota, including 20,000 on tribal reserves. According to court filings, at least 5,000 of those on reservations do not have conventional addresses.
I was stalled for much of the day after that. If that stalls me, a Canadian, I can't even imagine how you must feel.
Right now, I'm reading The Long Take and it is excellent. LA, film, noir, poverty politics and a close look at city design, all written in verse, makes for a fabulous read and a very happy woman.
Also finished The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter for a book group; Its a book I really wanted to like, but there was just too much meta/post modern stuff that felt very out of place in a book that takes place in the 1800s. But it was worth the read - not sure I'd read any more in the series however
I'm no liberal fragile flower but this is truly sickening.
I read like crazy to be ready for the panels I hosted over the weekend at the Southern Festival of Books. Old in Art School The Electric Woman The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Greece and on Saturday night, found myself with some breathing space so started Angela Thirkell's High Rising. Now Thirkell is the kind of thing I used to just eat up, it would really put me in my happy place but I think its a sign of the times that it feels like a strain to read. Or at least where my head is. And the mild anti-Semitism really grates. Boo.
I blame Trump.
One pitch though for The Electric Woman. Its a weird premise and I don't know why it works but but it somehow does and ends up being profoundly moving. Sometimes the best advice is there is no trick, it just is what is.
I'm almost done The Long Take, but was distracted by The Fifth Season. The Fifth Season was supposed to be my car book, but it's much too good and engrossing to stay there so I'm actively looking for space/corners to continue reading it. Kind of nice, actually, compulsive reads are few and far between these days.
And the Saudi thing, yeah—really distressing. I'm horrified at how antagonistic this administration is so journalists and the written word. Not just because it's my beat—it's so IMPORTANT. And that level of cavalier aggression is horrifying.
This collection I'm reading, Fierce, is fun—a collection of essays on lesser-known pioneering women throughout history that each blends the biographical account with the essay writer's own history, so I guess you'd call the form historical/personal essay. And while I'm really played to death on the personal essay format right now, a lot of these make it work.
One thing I need to tactfully broach with my friend, who edited and runs the small press that published it, is whether there's going to be another editorial pass. Because I'm finding a lot of small errors, mostly punctuation and a few of word usage/grammar. It's a slippery slope because while I'd like nothing more than to do line edits for the entire book for her—I'm a good editor, and I would punch up the quality a lot—that would be a lot of intensive work and I'd have to charge, since the book is about 350 pages. If she doesn't have another editing pass set up and doesn't offer to retain me for a full read-through, I can point out a few really glaring things, like em-dashes used instead of hyphens in one essay, but I'm going to have to refrain from pointing out everything I think should be addressed. Which is... frustrating. It's hard to read something without my editing hat on, even more so when it's the project of someone I like and want to succeed. I'll check in with her and see where the book stands.
I am also reading The Incendiaries which feels a bit meh and Appointment in Arezzo which I LOVE.
Also finished finished Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's Friday Black, which I thought was terrific—Lauren's heard me singing its praises. In troubled times it seems like there's always a directive for creative types—writers, artists, filmmakers, poets—to turn their anger, fear, frustration into meaningful statements. And yeah, easier said than done—particularly, done well. But Friday Black is very much that sort of work for these times, and a really good, unconventional read... though probably not up everyone's alley, as it's also very uncomfortable in parts, confrontational, often violent. The stories are smart, sharp, often harrowing; about anger, race and racism, consumerism, guilt, culpability, violence and its seductions, and the fierce pull of human decency against all of the dark matter. Adjei-Brenyah's voice and style are highly original—nothing here is in any way predictable. And while no catharsis is handed to the reader, there's still a sense of release to reading them, which maybe lies in his intelligent handling of all that complexity. Plus it's just good—rough around the edges in a few places, but a terrific debut, and highly recommended.
Standout stories are "The Finkelstein 5," "Zimmer Land," "Light Spitter," and "Through the Flash," none of them for the faint of heart (but who can afford to be faint of heart these days anyway?). And "The Hospital Where" is a wonderful writer's origin story.
Now reading The Story Prize: 15 Years of Great Short Fiction for review, since apparently I'm not actually done with short stories just yet—or they aren't done with me.
I also really enjoy a good piece of grassroots history and this is surely it.
Thanks to the Early Readers program at Library Thing for the book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
The Tessa Hadley is divine! Late in the Day. About a quartet of friends and the sudden death of one of them. Adult and very smart.
I am reading the new biography of Buffy Ste Marie (very earnest) and What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky.
I do find myself thinking as much about the nature of nonfiction as about the subject, though. It sometimes feels like the outrageous characters are carrying the book. I find myself looking for the undercurrent, the thing that drove Orlean to write the book and kept her at it, because I don't think it was just that it was "a good story." I know journalists must cultivate a certain objectivity and aloofness in their trade, but I find I am constantly looking for cracks in that armor, something that hints at how important it is she tell this particular story -- and with Orlean they are few and far between. As a result, my favorite bits are not the biographical reconstructions in the huge and fascinating cast of librarians, or the descriptions of the colored and checkered history of the institution, but the more poignant personal moments -- her descriptions of walking through the detritus littering the floor of a closed branch library. Her attempts to weather a series of long, hostile phone calls with a former director who wants to write his own book on the subject. And especially her conversations with the library staff that remembered the fire; their horror, grief, depression, and ptsd. I think Orleans is strongest in her feeling for the present, rather than the historical.
But I have a ways to go, so I may revise my opinion.
That being said, her background as a journalist comes out in her interview and investigation of the possible arsonist. She has always struck me as an empathetic listener, the type that those who love to talk enjoy talking to.
On the other hand, Meagan Marshall and Jenny Uglow write biographies clearly driven by some deep affinity for the topic, and yet I never get the feeling that they are imposing themselves on the subject. I think Orleans has that affinity in this book, but it comes through best in her coverage of the contemporary characters, not the historical ones. She is, perhaps, a journalist first, historian second.
>190 southernbooklady: John Szabo is a wonderful guy, and I'd vote for him. Rumor is that he didn't love being described as square-headed (and he isn't, particularly). But a lovely man and a really solid library director.
The Story Prize: 15 Years of Great Short Fiction was neat—so many of the short stories I've been reading lately have been focused on subject as much as style, but this is a greatest hits collection that's all about craft, and it was a pleasure to amble through with that in mind. Many of the stories I'd read and was glad to have a chance to revisit and really focus on, like Rick Bass's "How She Remembers It," Adam Johnson's "Nirvana," and Elizabeth McCracken's "Something Amazing," to name three standouts. And some were the first time around for me, and exciting in that sense. Particularly the knockout story, in my opinion (and also I think the longest), Anthony Doerr's "The Memory Wall." That one was a killer—so well plotted, beautifully written, strange and full of wonder.
Also finally finished Patrick deWitt's French Exit, which was wonderful. You need push the thought that this is a Wes Anderson film in the making right out of your head because there's really a lot more going on, and a lot of it is very lovely and funny, often at the same time. He has a way of getting to his characters by skating over them, then stopping and looking straight down with this simultaneously loving and unpitying eye. Every single inner child here is extremely needy, most likely because every single actual child was extremely neglected, and deWitt gives you the chance to care about that without sentimentalizing any of them. Agree with DG—the ending is marvelous. I will always have an eye peeled for Little Frank now, even if he was last seen in Paris.
I never really thought of that. A good example of male writer "driven to tell a story" that is deeply personal to the author would be John Eliot Gardener's book about Bach, Music in the Castle of Heaven. Steven Johnson's The Ghost Map also qualifies I think -- there's a writer who pursues the story of how information makes its way through our lives -- I mean, whatever he's writing about, he is on some level writing about that. It's like he can't help himself.
I read the stories from What it Means when a Man Falls from the Sky. Superb! An interesting combination of slice of life, ghost stories, folk tales, and sci fi. I look forward to reading whatever comes next from this Nigerian writer.
I'm about halfway through Friday Black and if my son doesn't take it back with him after break, plan to finish it. I think they are very fine stories, very RIGHT NOW as Tommy Orange said in his NYT review. They also make me super uncomfortable which may be part of the point.
Library Thing sent me Buffy Sainte-Marie: An Authorized Biography. It's definitely authorized - the lack of critical distance made me a bit uncomfortable and I felt like it lacked context or sense of place. But her work as an activist is really inspiring and I knew much less about that. There's quite a bit about First Nation music and the Juno awards - Mir, you might be interested. Though I'd take it out of the library - I don't think it's worth buying.
Also - to bring up Tommy Orange again! - there is a way of thinking about her experience that kind of changes your ideas about the whole folk music environment - if you are Indigenous and Pete Seeger wants you up there signing This Land is Your Land, what are you supposed to do?
I am reading the third novel in the Philip Kerr/Bernie Gunther Berlin Noir series. I really like these - I wish TPC was here so I could recommend them to him. The war is over, the Russians are in Berlin and everything seems a bit worse than it was before.
It's the kind of book where there's a famous author character named "Dash Hardy," and just when you're kind of certain that he's supposed to be Gore Vidal, you turn the page and there's a whole chapter where you (and Dash Hardy) are visiting Gore Vidal in Ravello (it's a good chapter; Gore's a funny character), so that throws you off the scent for a bit.
Looking forward to that Tessa Hadley—your comment made me bump it up the virtual stack a bit.
And yes also on What it Means when a Man Falls From the Sky—the way she slides between genres and styles is so adept. I liked that one a lot.
I'm reading Michael Ondaatje's Warlight, which is both a little clinical and very engaging at the same time. Which might just be the author, but whatever—I'm fine with it.
I started Lou Berney's November Road because a) it was literally in easy reach of where I was hanging out under a pile of kittens and b) the 55th anniversary of the JFK assassination just passed (that's the book's basic plot device) and I was thinking about it... I guess there's nothing I can say about ways to commemorate a successful presidential assassination that won't get me on someone's watch list, so I'll just read a book.
I did find them a bit...plotty with lots of characters, history and acronyms and I don't always have teh best retention. But I enjoyed them tremendously.
She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy
by Jill Soloway. This is the gal who created "Transparent." I think the show is genius and fills what was a big empty space in popular culture. Or at least TV culture. I initially rolled my eyes a lot at this show; it was a lot about an extremely privileged family (in LA, of course!) who were giving lessons in (in)tolerence to the rest of us. However, it really does deliver on several levels. The series ended up touching me deeply and upon a second viewing I've decided that it's my favorite TV ever.
SO--this book. It's her memoir about her family, her work, the show, her personal sexual identification journey (I know those aren't the right words), and I really loved it. I loved the blatant queer stuff in general (nice to know what the kids are up to). And I learned quite a bit about about this new-fangled business of identity--queer, and otherwise. It made me oddly hopeful about the future. Highly recommended.
His Favorites by Kate Walbert. A short, masterful novel about a horrifically inappropriate relationship between a 15 yo student and her 44 yo teacher. Not a bit prurient or salacious, but tragic nonetheless, and beautifully rendered.
by Kayla Rae Whitaker. I really loved this novel. It's a rare novel about complicated relationships between collaborating women artists. It's like the whole thing was shot by a new idea of a camera. And there was so much interesting stuff about Louisville KY and about the actual creation of animation. I've had the book for a year or so and almost didn't read it. Don't do what Nancy almost did. It's really great.
That said, I have been listening to audiobooks some. I have been delightfully surprised by Robert Galbraith's books (aka JK Rowling) with Cormoran Strike. I'm only on the second one, but I really like them. Interesting characters and well-written, I'd say. It's just so clear that this author is a lot smarter than most of the crime/mystery authors I've read. Recommended.
Just let me know.
Finished Lou Berney's November Road, which was a solidly entertaining noir crime thriller set in the wake of the Kennedy assassination, in a bunch of easy gulps. Not particularly deep, but a good ride (though I could have done without the epilogue).
I am really enjoying The Lost Man which is the new stand alone by Jane Harper . Also reading The History of the World in 21 Women which was a Library Thing Early Reviewers read. I admit, I thought I'd read a few chapters and call it a day because I don't feel the need for a capsule biography of Madonna or Marie Curie. But Murray is a good thoughtful writer and brings something very personal to each woman. I'm liking it very much.
I just finished reading Everything Under by Daisy Johnson, and thought it was rather wonderful. Surprisingly on-point for my world right now, but would have thought it fabulous regardless. Her re-working of Oedipus was fascinating. Plus lots of words (Gretl is a linguist) and time spent on the Fen made me think of that great landscape vocabulary book I'm blanking on right now. I finished the book wanting to read it again.
Now I'm reading Children's Bach -- not what I expected at all, so much better. Current and edgy. For some reason I expected it to be twee-ish.
I just started Utmost Happiness by Roy. Also, oddly, related to gender and gender transformation. That was a surprise (although not an unwelecome one).
I'm also still making progress on the Heinrich Raven book, and have made some progress in Bad Blood, the Thanos scandal book.
My general policy these days is that reading something is better than not reading, so I read as my fancy strikes.
(post was edited for clarity and punctuation)
a work of fiction, even though all of her information is based on interviews with the true-life person who the book is based on, but it reads over and over again like a badly written memoir. Just a total stinker.
I started The Tattoist of Aushwitz and decided that it was not for me.
I spent a lot of time in the air this week and finished The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century, which was a solidly enjoyable piece of narrative nonfiction. To say that it has all the requisite elements sounds like faint praise, but I appreciate when an author does the necessary research to set the scene—especially if there are several topics that converge, as in this one—and then uses just enough of it to scaffold a good story. The fact that Johnson's obsession with solving the last pieces of the crime is never realized is both a little unsatisfying and humanizing; the book may be subtitled "the Natural History Heist of the Century," but this isn't a whodunnit that ties up all the loose ends before the last page, nor does it dig too deeply into the strange subculture of fly-tying. Rather, it's an entertaining yarn—the real fun is in the telling, as I realized when I had a second good time recounting the basic plot points to a friend a few days after reading it.
And continuing my nonfiction natural science reading (also known as continuing to have random library holds come in), I'm now about to start Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution. the subject matter ticks a bunch of my boxes and the author is cute, so we'll see.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz attacked as inauthentic by camp memorial centre
I am reading the new Louise Penny and the writing is so terrible I don't know if I can continue. also reading David Ritz's book on Aretha Franklin Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin
The Guardian list seems very short this year but I'm willing to go with it if everyone else is.
The two lists we use are:
So far, we have Nancy, Miriam, LuAnn and myself. Is this correct? I'll give it to the end of the week and then send out the list over the weekend. It can be the Epiphany book swap this year.
The book doesn't feel as charged as one about all the infectious diseases on the brink of wiping us all out, but the history of the science is really well done, not the least because Quammen, in true journalist fashion, is at his best when he is talking about the people behind the theory. He's got a generous spirit and an affectionate tolerance for the contrarian and the gadfly in whatever discipline he's writing about. And a good appreciation for the difference between "visionary" and "crank."
Do you have my name on the list? I told you on some thread, don't remember. But add me
Also have the ebola adaptation from Spillover (which is super excellent read).
Finished Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution, a good popular science book that walks the fine line between being extremely accessible but not dumbing down the thesis or the science supporting it. Schilthuizen presents an interesting overview of urban evolution—how plants, insects, birds, and animals have adapted to manmade/urban environments—in an extremely digestible way that doesn't skirt the fact that this is serious business. The tone tends to default a little onto the side of breeziness, focusing on urban fauna and flora's successful adaptations to issues like noise, light, and chemical pollution and the compartmentalization of cities' green areas without digging into the more disastrous and deleterious effects. Then again, this is not that book, of which there are already many. This is, rather, an optimistic—but no less rigorous for that—look at the ways nature (both what we think of as "nature" and the kind touched by human beings) prevails.
Schilthuizen's style is conversational and often very funny, keeping the array of information moving along: why mice in urban pocket parks have developed different DNA; moths whose wing colors changed to provide camouflage on the soot-covered tree trunks of industrial-age England; plants that filter heavy metals; the difference between rural and urban blackbirds, who do in fact sing in the dead of night (to avoid daytime city noises—and that's not the only sly Paul McCartney reference Schilthuizen works in); and the ultimate irony—how the post-Darwin transformation of the Galápagos capital of Santa Cruz into a tourist destination has resulted in enough urban homogenization to slowly reverse the differentiated effects on the bills of "Darwin's" finches, which are what led to its fame to begin with.
Lots to learn here, and it both goes down easily and sticks in the brain—the author presents his information well and usably. Recommended for anyone curious about the subject—and Schilthuizen loves him some citizen scientists, so the book may well achieve his goal of encouraging more folks with general interests to get involved in helping track urban evolution as it marches on.
Now reading Daniel Gumbinder's The Boatbuilder, another library ebook hold that snuck up on me. After this, my goal for my time off is to read something in hardcover that I wouldn't necessarily want to haul around on my daily commute, much of which I stand up for and have to read one-handed. I'm thinking Circe, but we'll see.
Ritz also suggests that artists who are born with a very precociously mature talent - Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland - are put in adult situations - if not sexually, then emotionally, very early and it has a lasting effect.
Also, the gospel world was a HOTBED of sex.
Not sure what the holidays will bring reading wise but a copy of Goodbye Vitamin tumbled into my lap and I'm enjoying it.
edit: except that I think the link is wrong.
I feel like I should be snuggling up with something cozy but I started reading notes on a Foreign Country and it's very very good. Its about changing your perception, not in a superficial way but in a let the blinders fall for good kind of way, that is unsettling and inspiring. Hansen moved to Istanbul with a set of ideas about the romantic bridge between east and West but with a lot of naïve and frankly dangerous ideas about Islam and America's role in the middle east. It's personal, political, historical. Very impactful.
I am also back to reading the stories in Friday Black so I guess I'm having kind of a get-woke end of the year experience.
There are also some interesting meditations here on mortality and fate, both of which are often on my mind these days. The last page and a half was as moving as anything I've read in a long time.
Also in awe of the book's insane crossover power. Circe is for lovers of literary fiction and historical fiction, book clubs, scholars, your aunt, your teenager, your best friend. This was a great book to wind up a good reading year.
(There are some neat images of Circe on Miller's blog.)
Feeling like an atmospherically wintery book for these last few days of the year, even though we've been spared any snow that stuck so far, so I'm reading Ways to Hide in Winter. No particular plans for New Year's Eve, since Jeff is on his way out to Albuquerque to see his sister and nephews and great-niece (and someone's gotta stay with the old dog—plus I'm headed back to work on Wednesday), so I figure that'll be a good time to catch up on a little letter-writing and read: finishing up as I intend to go on.
Happy New Year, everyone! May this one be good, fun, joyful, satisfying, adventurous, or restful in whatever proportions works for you.
I usually go to short stories to cure a slump but found this in my Kindle library: Akata Witch. I haven't read a YA book in ages, which is why it caught my eye. Actually, it's categorized as YA, but it's one of those for-all-ages books. Really unique voice from a teen with powers she hasn't figured out yet, born in the U.S. but moved to Nigeria by her parents who thought it a better place to raise an albino young girl (!?!) It's steeped in an unfamiliar (to me) African mythology, and I can't wait to get back to it today.
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okoafor
The writing here is low-key, appropriately atmospheric, and for the most part well done, though foreshadowing is some dicey business and needs to be done with a lighter touch. But overall the novel was moral in an un-preachy fashion that I appreciate in fiction, and St. Vincent kept it honest enough to keep me engaged.
Now I'm reading The Devoted because Gayla Bassham sucked me in with a Goodreads recommendation.
Nice rec of Ways to Hide in Winter, Lisa. I'm in. You write about books so beautifully.
The stories in Friday Black were all that. Even the ones that were a tiny bit under-baked were great.
I am reading (and reviewing) The River, my first Peter Heller and it is truly excellent.
Days without End by Sebastian Barry
Last Stories by William Trevor
French Exit by Patrick deWitt
Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead by Barbara Comyns
Improvement Silber by Joan Silber
The Elected Member Bernice Rubens
Your Duck is My Duck by Deboarh Eisenberg
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott (nuns!)
Why Religion by Elaine Pagels
I'm not even sure why I picked these over others - I had a pretty good reading year overall -- though few things really jumped out.
Biggest disappointment - The Incendiaries which I didn't hate but didn't live up to the hype.
Worst book read -- Where the Crawdads Sing. HATED IT
Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins was so disturbing, bleak, and unsettling. I could not put it down and then when I discovered it was based on a true crime I got chills all over again. I adored Jenkins’ The Tortoise and The Hare and highly recommend that as well. For lovers of those Virago Modern Classics. Harriet was recently released on Kindle, very reasonably priced too.
The second book. I read has been on TBR pile forever. So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell is damn near perfect. I don’t know why it has taken me so long to get around to Maxwell. I read Time Will Darken It this summer at the beach and liked that a lot but this was just a gem of precision, understatement, and heart. Next up in February, The Folded Leaf.
Just started My Brilliant Friend this morning and loving it so far. I’m on a roll!
Finished The Devoted. This debut novel is an interesting exploration of faith, fidelity, and searching, and also the ways that religion wields power over both the faithful and the questioning. The protagonist, Nicole, has left the Catholic church in which she was raised for Buddhism—she's a convert, and has been studying under the same teacher for more than ten years. But the fact that she and her teacher also have a sexual relationship leads her to interrogate her own practices of faith and submission, particularly when held up to the reasons she broke from Catholicism. I liked the exploration of the issues here, and how Hurley framed the beauty and comfort to be found in both religions, although at times the controlling nature of both Nicole's family and her Buddhist master felt a little too cut-and-dried for the sake of easy comparison. Still, this was definitely worth reading—a thoughtful novel that isn't afraid to interrogate itself a bit.
Now on to Ghost Wall because my hold came in—I hit that sweet spot of putting a hold on an ebook that just came out before the ravening hordes clicked.
Hoping to see bears, fuchsias and lots of malamutes. Cruising is a good way to travel with demented Jim.
And now, because a friend sent me her hard copy, Michelle Obama's Becoming. It has one of the most agreeable forewords to a memoir I've ever read, so I hope the rest is that pleasant.
I'm fascinated by the whole thing, but if you're not a Hardy person, don't do it.
I do not understand why Rosellen Brown is not a superstar. I'm reading her new book The Lake on Fire and it's just amazing, like every other thing she's ever written. It's about a brother and sister who come to Chicago in the early 1890s from rural Wisconsin and make their way, the sister in a cigar making factory, the brother like a cross between the artful dodger and robin Hood. It's just extraordinary. The novel came out on a tiny tiny Chicago press with no publicity behind it- why isn't this woman considered a major player? This is the great Chicago novel - so much more so than The Great Believers (sorry Rebecca).
Color me flummoxed. On the other hand, read it.
I have an embarrassment of riches, thanks to christmas, New Years Day sale, birthday, and book group reads - not sure what to start with
Little edward carey
Leadership in turbulent times (thanks Luann!)
Wonder Beyond Belief
A Terrible Country
J.B (actually found in a used store and realized I know longer had a copy. )
Circe which I am going to have to read a third time (gosh darn it) for a book group.
Im almost finished with LIttle, and well into the Doris K Goodman, and will probably read Becoming next just not sure which novel I want to dive into.
I'm reading City of Crows right now, and enjoying it a great deal. Pat, I think it's a perfect book for you! Not to demanding but well written and very engrossing -- Plus, witches, plague, galley slaves and medieval France. Kat, you might like this one too.
The Fifth Season by Jemisin (my favourite genre read of the year)
Happiness by Forna
Everything Under by Johnson
The Transcriptionist by Rowland
Stephen Florida by Habash
White Tiger by Adiga
The Strangler Vine by Carter
Mean by Gurba
Fever Dream by Schweblin
Knucklehead by Smyer
Son of the Trickster by Robinson
Children's Bach by Garner (so excited when this was re-released)
Rock Crystal by Stifter (loved the northern lights scene -- engrossing read, I can see why deeg re-reads it yearly)
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Roy (It was kind of a messy novel and I wanted more of Anjum, but still an excellent read)
Landmarks by Macfarlane (I read this because Niki did, and so glad I did)
Seven Fallen Feathers by Talaga
Elements of Indigenous Style - by Younging (super nerdy read that probably only word for someone whose regularly editing students papers, but still, loved it)
Real World Of Technology by Franklin
Heart Berries by Mailhot
Educated by Westover
The Overstory -- did I mention how much I love and admire this book? :-)
Her Body and Other Parties -- even though I read this a year ago, I still find myself thinking about scenes and moments in the book.
Circe -- as good, well, no, better than everyone says.
The Mind of the Raven -- great science!
The Cooking Gene -- a re-read, but it hit me as hard as it did the first time
Florida by Lauren Groff -- might be my new favorite short story writer
Heart Berries -- I still don't know how she managed to put so much in so short a book. I'd call it poetry if it weren't so clearly prose.
Flights by Olga Tocarczuk -- my favorite new discovery writer
A House for Mr. Biswas -- I can't believe it took me so long to read this.
Wade in the Water by Tracy K Smith
Half a Yellow Sun -- another re-read, but god, I adore this book.
Old Ways: A Journey on Foot -- this is a writer who has really grown on me. He treats language and landscape as tangled up in each other, like they are interdependent.
Not Here by Hieu Minh Nguyen
Braiding Sweetgrass -- I find I follow her "guidelines for the honorable harvest" with the same devotion others seem to give Marie Kondo's rules for having stuff
The Tangled Tree -- worth it just for the section on Lynn Margulis
The Library Book -- Szabo for President!
Dreams in a Time of War -- I've been reading his nonfiction, lately.
The Overstory -- I feel like this book belongs on my list at least eight times.
ETA: whoops? did I post this in the wrong thread? I saw Miriam's post and thought oh yeah, I haven't done that yet. Sorry!
Anyway, it's just beautiful. Hard to describe, but beautiful. It's a kind of exploration into the deep meaning of the parks as identity. It's not a travel book, not just a conservationist's plea, it's a long love letter to the park system and to these National Parks as answers to the question "What is America?".
Yeah, I don't think she can write any other way. She is of the landscape, not someone who just walks across it. But my favorite sections were the ones where landscape and people were in the most direct conflict -- the Theodore Roosevelt Park / Bakken Oil Fields chapter. The Gettysburg Battlefield chapter. The Effigy Mounds section. (Boy do I want to see those now).
When my folks came to visit we went to see a rather amazing exhibit called The Beyond: Georgia O'Keeffe and Contemporary Art
Part of the exhibit is a 360-degree film of her house (the Ghost Ranch) and the vistas she walked and painted. (The view she lived with is, well, indescribable). And I couldn't help but think -- I'm sure her house is some kind of designated historical landmark, but to really preserve what it meant, you'd have to preserve everything out to the horizon and then some. Leave everything untouched as far as you can see. I found myself thinking about how much space you need to preserve the experience of the land. Ghost Ranch is something like 32 square miles. It didn't seem enough.
Also reading, because it was an Earlybird Books $1.99 special yesterday, Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable. Because that's my life goal these days... Dorrie's going to be 14 this spring and her arthritis is just starting to slow her down, and I want to keep her happy and comfy no matter what. She's such a good girl.
I've been reading a little more, in the mornings on the weekends and occasionally before I go to bed. I read Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore, which was ok. Then I read We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix and couldn't put it down! It reminded me a LOT of Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box (and other Joe Hill). Part of what I loved was that the author clearly does know some actual metal music! Each chapter has a title of a metal album by many of the best metal bands out there....and one Dolly Parton album. I loved it.
I'm trying to read The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett, and this is probably the 4th time I've tried. I just can't get into it. I'm forcing myself, so I've read about half of it. I may just not have the Pratchett gene, because The Wyrd Sisters didn't really hold me either. I started rereading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and it totally works for me. I don't know what it is about Pratchett, if I like Douglas Adams and Christopher Moore.
Hi Dorrie, you little cutie!
Her answers make me look smart for asking those questions!
The Lake on Fire could have used with a bit of editing but it's really a gorgeous book and it breaks my heart that it didn't get any promotion and nobody ill read it. Brown is an extraordinary writer and like all her books, this one is filled with unforgettable scenes.
I just read Amy Hempel's new book Sing to It. I'm one who feels like two paragraphs do not a story make but I liked these a lot.
I'm definitely going to read the new ROSELLEN BROWN.
Lake on Fire could have used with a bit of editing but it's really a gorgeous book and it breaks my heart that it didn't get any promotion and nobody ill read it. Brown is an extraordinary writer and like all her books, this one is filled with unforgettable scenes.
I just got it from the library based on your recommendation. It is close to the top of my current staggeringly high TBR pile.
I finished Michelle Obama's Becoming, which was—beyond any expectations—just lovely. Her voice comes through so clearly throughout, which is both good writing and, I suspect, great cowriting and/or editing, but whatever. It's good to hear from her again. There was a lot that was fun about it, from descriptions of what it's like inside the White House (she describes it as a bubble, which sounds about right—she couldn't open a window or go out on the balcony without clearance from the Secret Service) to talk about raising kids and her marriage—which, of course, she went into only as much as it suited her, but still. I'm always fascinated by portraits of other people's marriages and how they negotiate the rough stuff. And it was good to read an account of her husband's administration if only to affirm that no, it wasn't a dream. And a decent president could happen again. Sigh. Anyway, recommended for anyone, really. It was a buoying read.
Then I read George Saunders's Fox 8, which is a tiny little fable about wildlife in the big world. You have to be in the mood for dialect—it's written in fox-speak—and you have to be in the mood for Saunders' slightly dark whimsy. Otherwise it ain't gonna work. But I was open for it, plus the whole thing is about 50 pages, so I liked it.
I spent an entire flight from NYC to Seattle reading Eric Kandel's The Disordered Mind: What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves, which is dry as dirt yet totally fascinating, and it kept me reading (glossing over the medical terms a little, but I think I still think I have a better picture of the brain's workings). It's a strange phenomenon: by all rights I should have abandoned it within the first 25 pages because he's not a very interesting writer. But I'm still reading, and eager to get back to it when I have a few minutes in between conference-going. Go figure.
Alternated that with Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable. Because that's my life's work these days.
So... a lot of not-very-uplifting nonfiction, yet I'm very into both books. Go figure.
I have an Iris Murdoch from the library cued up next (Under the Net), maybe for the flight back, as well as Marlon James's Black Leopard, Red Wolf, which looks totally fascinating. So that'll depend on whether I want a break from my nonfiction and what I'm in the mood for.
Also already picked up
I am reading a book of short stories - Lot from a new writer Bryan Washington. Boy howdy, they are good. They all take place in the sprawl that is Houston, some interlinked but not all - very fresh voice, very new approach. Coming of age stories from a biracial (black and Hispanic) kid, probably gay. His story Waugh was in the New Yorker and that's pretty indicative of whats here.
Reading is so exciting right now!
Now I'm reading Iris Murdoch's Under the Net, because a review somewhere (LA Review of Books I think) said it was both her best and her most philosophical book. It's quite entertaining and Iris Murdoch–y so far, at any rate.
EDIT: Yikes, I almost bought the Chinese hardcover: https://www.amazon.com/Under-Net-Chinese-Iris-Murdoch/dp/7540247304/ref=tmm_hrd_...
I just finished Robert Wright's book Why Buddhism is True, which is basically his take on the psychology and science going on behind the effects of mindfulness meditation. It is not dry as dust although it is a wee bit overly-enthusiastic (meditation is not going to save the planet ;-) ). But it was fascinating to delve into the nitty-gritty of how we experience and process emotions and sensory input, and their relationship to many of the problems that plague us, like addiction, isolation, an inability to connect to others, etc. He comes at it from the perspective of evolutionary psychology, so it isn't a "religion" book in any sense of the term. I had to read it twice to absorb everything.
I usually have a listening-to (above) and a reading book going at the same time, and my reading book is Wild Heart, the biography of Natalie Clifford Barney. She's an outrageously, ostentatiously larger-than-life character and great fun to read about. If ex-pat Paris 1900-1925 is your scene, then Barney is a wonderful guide.
Barney's biographer needs to get a grip sometimes, however. The book is beautifully and meticulously researched and Barney herself left behind voluminous correspondence, roman-a-clef novels and poems and stories, pictures of herself as a nymph and a page boy, and thousands of broken-hearted poets and artists who desperately chronicled her every glance--if a famous or notorious or talented woman set foot in Paris in the early twentieth century Barney gleefully seduced her--and I think the general over-heatedness of Barney's life is over-cooking the prose.
All Passion Spent is a very DG book -- Ima have to go back to the Muriel Spark bio and see if she ever mentions it, because that's what it felt like in a lot of ways, a late Muriel Spark book...though in this case, NOT so super-mean.
BTW what did you end up thinking about the Gorey bio?
I concur about the Hadley. ITS. SO. GOOD. I forgot I did a q and a with her for bookpage and her answers are so articulate, she makes my questions much more interesting than they were.
I just finished Susan Choi's Trust Exercise. I need to let it percolate a bit and I don't know what to say without giving the plot away. At first, the novel seems to be about two students at a performing arts high school. They fall in love and to them and seemingly to their circle of friends, the whole community is obsessed with these two kids being together, as well as their eventual break up and their continued obsession with one another. Other things happen, a group of students from England arrive to do a show and hijinks ensue. And that's just the first 100 pages, right about the point where you are wondering why you are spending all this time with these kids who you don't even like.
And then the whole narrative is upended and nothing is quite what it seemed and it doesn't get resolved until the final coda and even then you are like - huh?
I think it might be brilliant. It's certainly a thrill to read.
I am reading Joan Chase's During the Reign of the Queen of Persia which a friend gave me. it's so my thing, I don't know why I've not read it until now.
"Without giving anything away, I felt that Late in the Day was really about a middle-aged woman committing to her identity as an artist. Would you agree?
Yes, that’s what I think. My heart was in that last chapter, those last pages."
You know, not everyone is a Virginia Woolf fan given the eliptical writing; for those who find that tedious (as do I), try The Years.