6.17.2007

Reading is fun-damental

It's that time again. What are you reading, loving, loathing? What has blown your hat off lately? My recent list is this:

Lost City Radio: Daniel's book is sweet. Read it and be proud of him.

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter: An amazing Southern Gothic read from someone obnoxiously young.

The Exquisite: Diverting, but not as substantial as I had hoped.

The Raw Shark Texts: WTF? How was this such a hit last year -- or maybe that was just on this side of the ocean? Overhyped and disappointing.

The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, 1978, Ed. R. V. Cassill: I'm about 450 pages into 1400, just going in alphabetical order by author. Two priceless gems unearthed so far: "The Egg" by Sherwood Anderson, which is hilarious, and "The Biggest Band" by R. V. Cassill himself, which is hilarious (who knew? Anyone read one of his books?).

The Collected Stories of Richard Yates: Going slow, maybe one a week, don't want it to end

The Assault by Harry Mulisch: Need to brush up on Dutch writers, and this was a hell of a start

Supernatural by Graham Hancock: Because I am a shark, and it is a bucket of chum

The Wapshot Chronicle: Abandoned this for the second time. How it is possible to be bored by and indifferent to something by Cheever, I don't know, but I was, I was, I was

The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq: I've talked about this before, but it bears repeating -- an honest, bruising book

The Name of the World: About a third the way in and liking it much better than Resuscitation

Poetry: A Pocket Anthology
R. S. Gwynn ed.: Strictly a greatest hits collection. My bathroom book, but I'm not making much headway somehow. Too much roughage? And I didn't know Queen Elizabeth wrote, uh, poetry

The Interloper: Will be reviewing this for Please Don't, about which more to come.

P. S. There is a play about Paul Engle in the works.

11 comments:

dunkeys said...

You're reading enough for everyone! But it is summer, so I don't feel *too* inadequate --

Underworld: Why haven't I read this sooner? Why don't profs talk about DeLillo more, or was it only mine who ignored him? Why are the trash scenes so great? The first section is amazing. Absolutely loved the book, flaws (vanishing killers, silly endings, two many edgars) and all. Is this his best? What might be as good? I've read White Noise and The Body Artist, but Underworld is another league. Does anyone recommend any others? Mao II? Libra? How's Falling Man?

Revolutionary Road: Liked it not so much (but maybe that's another discussion?).

The Waves: it's really a lot like listening to the asides of the crewmen in Moby-Dick. They're all so *young* and earnest sounding that it grated.

several books (Common Criminals, Angry Nights, and Fish, Soap and Bonds) by an LA writer, Larry Fondation. Good stuff -- terse outrage. The tired, the poor, all that. Angry Nights I recommend highly, but it's hard to find.

and halfway through The Geographical History of America, by Gertrude Stein: only halfway because it's hard for me to feel much besides inferior.

Then it's me and Marcel, head to head. Swann's Way beginning next week. (I tell myself this every summer.)

Toad Press said...

Here's my list or recent reads.

* = not my favorite book
**** = my favorite book this summer ( you can see I don't have one of these yet...)

**The Wild Palms (Faulkner)

*Revolutionary Road

**The Omnivore's Dilemma (Michael Pollan)

***Splay Anthem (Nathaniel Mackey)

***Bright Hunger (Mark Irwin)

***The Edge of Reason (Sartre) --this might get more stars later, but I'm only on page 27.

Toad Press said...

Oh, and Jane Smiley's Ten Days in the Hills, which I'd be inclined to give zero stars to.

Grendel said...

Thanks for the Underworld plug... that may go on the Soon list. And somehow I've avoided Gertrude Stein all these years. Maybe it's time.

I'm really surprised that neither of you liked RevRo and curious about your objections.

dunkeys said...

Mostly I didn't like the characters or find them interesting (even the 'piercing' nature of the loony kid frustrated me). I liked The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and Winter of Our Discontent better because their characters are in similar situations but they're presented much less ironically.

We actually watched Little Children (haven't read the book) just before I read Revolutionary Road, and that movie (and so likely Tom Perrotta's book) deals with similar characters, and it does so in a much more stylized way -- they're just as dumb, but the sadness that comes about because of their inability to see how flawed they are is far more realized. Same for Moody's The Ice Storm. I think it's all of a similar genre -- "middle class tableau" -- and the Yates doesn't match the others.

I think Revolutionary Road is more accurately titled Revolutionary Road . . . Not! And that basically encapsulates the book for me.

TLB said...

So, far, LOVING Jennifer Egan's The Keep. Can't put it down.

Bored with The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney, this year's Costa Award winner. (It should be right in my wheelhouse, but for some reason, I can't make myself pick it back up. Yawn.)

LOVED Haslett's You are Not a Stranger Here. Brave, fully realized stories.

El Gordo De Amore said...

Michael Chabon's "Yiddish Policeman .." -- like it a lot, but alternative anything (history, music, comic book hero stories, underwear choices) is something I pretty much like no matter what.

William Maxwell -- "So Long, See you Tomorrow" -- I like it although it has no alternative anything.

A Civil Action, To Kill a Mockingbird, Bleak House, Kennedy for the Defense, Diary of A Yuppie -- The books I'm teaching for my law and lit class -- I continue to nurse the crush I had on Scout since I was eight (when I think I read the book the first time -- mainly because it was on my neighbor's shelf, and it had "Kill" in the title). I remember liking it then, which seems a little weird and over-the-age-of-eight to me now, but I was a pretty weird little kid.

The Road -- Cormac McCarthy -- some absolutely stunning and evocative use of language. And I finished it, although it gave me nightmares for a week -- honestly, I kept having this dream Jimmy was running around on I-95 and I had to go get him before he got squished -- one of the real downsides to being a parent seems to be the impossibility of enjoying certain things I used to (for example, zombie movies like 28 Weeks Later -- the entire movie I kept worrying about what I would do to save Mary Frances and Jimmy when the zombies came).

traca de broon said...

Read since our books finally arrived in the Netherlands: The Collected Stories of Richard Yates, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Great Expectations, Easter Parade, Seize the Day, Lost City Radio, The Wapshot Chronicle and Wapshot Scandal (liked the former, not the latter). I bought Against the Day because it was $7 on Amazon and I keep staring at it, but am not making any promises.

My list is so close to Grendel's because the easiest thing to do with a finished book is hand it to the person next to you.

Also, I do like DeLillo, but was pretty unaffected by Falling Man. I enjoy fiction based on historical events, but usually it's about more distant times that I didn't live through personally. I spent more time thinking about my own relation to events than the characters' -- as in where I was when I saw certain images for the first time or how I felt at the 2004 anti-war march in NYC. If Libra came out so soon after the Kennedy assassination, maybe it wouldn't have been so good, either. Or perhaps I'm just a self-centered ass who cares more about herself than characters in a book.

dunkeys said...

I'm definitely a self-centered ass and care more about myself than characters in books! Cheers to my now holding off on Falling Man!

Just read Peter Carey's Theft -- great start, then just falls to pieces. He's interesting -- I don't know much about him (he's the chair of an NYC MFA program) and haven't read much (Kelly Gang is the only other). I wonder if people feel strongly about him?

Also read a couple essays in Consider the Lobster. Sportsfans, Wallace's essay in there titled "How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart" sneaks into a pretty amazing concept.

kclou said...

duke of deception. awesome. truly a memoir, as opposed to a memoir disguised as a novel (not that there's anything wrong with that). reminded me of stop-time and, predictably, this boy's life, for which it's an accompanying piece. forget the doctors and football players, the wolff family should be the ones donating to sperm banks.

on beauty: the thin elaine scarry volume, not the zadie smith novel that borrows its title. i don't see why any writer wouldn't read this. almost certainly, you won't agree with everything, but there's so much to think about, and the prose is surprisingly lovely (think marilynne's non-fiction).

the brief and terrifying reign of phil: i wasn't going to read this one, even though i enjoy saunders, because it didn't sound promising. but then it showed up in my work mailbox since i've taught saunders in the past, and someone was watching. my suspicions were correct; it's bad. when saunders is over the top, it's usually with a degree of grace and, more importantly, tenderness for his characters. not here. this is a goofy mallet to the head.

swann's way. i've been eager to read the lydia davis translation, though not so eager, like dunkeys, i got to it earlier. i don't know what to say. there are moments of such overwhelming beauty and insight. there also stretches of gossipy boredom. the premise of the project is awesome. this one's hard to write about well.

the third harry potter book. it's fine. it felt like a well-imagined children's book. i'm not eager to read any of the volumes before or after this one.

the age of wire and string. i'm about halfway through. there's some cool shit, but i'm not impressed. feels showy, unsophisticated, and cold. why do i sound so awful?

also: put me in the pro-rev road camp.

also, part ii: i brought two of my classes, toad press, to joel salatin's farm from the omnivore's dilemma. really interesting guy, really cool farm, good book.

Toad Press said...

salatin's farm was the most interesting (and inspiring) part of the book, I thought. It's neat you got to go there!

I tried reading dunkeys's Theft over the weekend, and couldn't get past page 50 or so.... A very annoying book!