I recently finished writing When the Sparrow Sings (which is why I haven’t been blogging much), but there are still several months of chapter to be posted. Today, it’s the sixth inning, which is the seventh of eleven chapters. Read it here and enjoy.
As I no longer have the energy to maintain two blogs, I will now be posting reading stuff here. That means more posts in general, but things will probably keep being sporadic until everything is put together with the book.
This month was a solid reading month. Nothing was an utter disappointment, though several things weren’t quite as good as I might have hoped. I have read a lot of books so far this year. 48 altogether, which makes it all but certain that this will be the most prolific reading year of my life. Now for the log…
1. Babel Tower by A.S. Byatt (4/5) – I tackled my long book for the month straight away and, in the end, found myself a bit disappointed. Byatt has tendencies toward extremely complex and interweaving narratives and most of the time it works. Here, it was hard not to feel that she could have lost 100 pages and not lost anything we needed for the story. It’s a good book, and the last 150 pages are really something, but she’s capable of better.
2. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare (4.5/5) – This is the play that really stuck with me out of my Shakespeare class in college. A lot of the contemporary view of this play turns on how much you read it as anti-semetic. It seems to me to be more a jab at Christians who don’t act very Christian, but the ending is rather disturbing for something that’s supposed to end happily. Still, it’s a good play with one of the most classic Shakespeare lines (“If you prick me, do I not bleed…”).
3. The Sea by John Banville (5/5) – I happened to read online that this won the Booker Prize over Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and thought that fact alone made it worth investigating. This book has everything the haters of literary fiction gripe about, but that doesn’t mean it’s anything but wonderful. Haunting is overused, but it’s the best word I can find here. This is a haunting book. I felt it hanging over my head for days after I finished it. Banville’s prose is stunning (the book jacket calls him the heir to Nabokov and this, unbelievably, does not feel like hyperbole when reading it), and his narrator is fascinating.
4. Henry IV, Part I (4/5) – In my read-all-of-Shakespeare project I’ve found that, generally, I don’t love the histories. Shakespeare’s hands were very much tied when writing about the monarchy and there is lot of “sameness” from one history play to another. Still, there are some delightful characters and here we meet Falstaff, who is certainly one of them. I’m told by a friend that I must judge Part 2 as 5 stars if I want the friendship to continue. I look forward to it.
5. We Learn Nothing by Tim Kreider (3/5) – This was an interesting book of personal essays. It was enjoyable but disposable. Kreider lacks a willingness to be totally honest about his own shortcomings, which is necessary to write personal essays that truly resonate.
6. The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare (3.5/5) – This was, reportedly, a commissioned work by Queen Elizabeth. It reads like it. As I’ve been making my way through Shakespeare, I’ve been pleased by the subtlety and complexity of the current run of plays. This one is an exception. It feels tossed off.
7. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (4/5) – This book started off fantastically. I thought I might have one of my favorite books of the year. Walter establishes the connection between several narratives in a way that drive the reader forward waiting to see how everything comes together. How it does come together, however, is a little too neatly. It just doesn’t quite feel right at the end and so, instead of being a great book, this is merely good.
8. Henry IV, Part 2 by William Shakespeare (5/5) – Looks like I get to keep my friend. This was a great play. Shakespeare did a wonderful job of blending Comedy with drama. It feels to me very much like one of his late-career compositions with all it’s layering and complexity. One of the best I’ve read.