Well, I only read three books this month and didn’t get much writing done to speak of. On the other hand, we did welcome our son, so perhaps the lack of productivity can be excused. Lots of books I want to read next month. We’ll see how that goes with two children.
First, a note on a book I didn’t finish: Everything Is Illuminated, I tried with you, I really did. I picked you up three different times over the last five years. When you first came out, everyone loved you. Lately, you’ve fallen a bit in esteem, but you’re still generally admired, but it just isn’t meant to be for us. I find your first twenty pages grating and uninviting and so I’m crossing you off my list and sending you out into the world. You don’t really need me anyway.
1. Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy (5/5) – This was the first book I tackled from Cate’s list, and I loved it. I had only read a few stories before I started trying to figure out where I could teach some of them. Meloy has a fabulous, unadorned voice that fits her characters and environments perfectly. The best part about these stories, however, is that they are not predictable at all. I thought I knew what was going to happen in several of them and I didn’t, at all. I couldn’t have guessed. That’s no small accomplishment.
2. Fishing the Sloe-Black River by Colum McCann (5/5) – I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I am a fan of Colum McCann. These short stories are great. I am continually amazed at how many different voices he can take on. The characters in each story are so radically different from each other it boggles. He does equally magnificent turns with the simple and perfect descriptions of his settings and the situations he places his characters in. Beautiful writer.
3. The Surrendered by Chang-Rae Lee (5/5) – This book was a finalist for the Pulitzer last year, and I think I enjoyed it more than the book that won (A Visit from the Goon Squad, which I did also love). What struck as most remarkable about this book is how constantly sad and yet continually compelling it is. You can’t check out from the characters, no matter how much you may want to. I also always appreciate Lee’s overt feminism. He does not take women for granted in his stories, and it’s wonderful to see from such a prominent male writer.
Winter/Spring Book Queue Update:
This Side of Brightness by Colum McCann*
The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee*
Run by Ann Patchett*
The Little Black Book of Stories by A.S. Byatt*
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood*
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers
The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace
After Dark by Haruki Murakami
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen