May/June Book Log

July 11, 2017

Okay, quickly. Here’s what I read during the last two months before a third month passes.

  1. Collected Poems by Carol Ann Duffy (3.5/5) – The first book on the list reflects the issues I had semi-constantly over the last two months. Parts of this are great, parts not so much. And when you’re in a “not so much” stretch, it’s easy to put the book down and leave it there for a while. Such is the danger of collected works.
  2. Iza’s Ballad by Magda Szabo (5/5) – This, on the other hand, was fabulous all the way through. I’d read and loved Szabo’s The Door last year and had this strongly recommended to me. Wonderful book wherein even the unlikable characters are understandable and at least somewhat sympathetic.
  3. Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano (4/5) – Three novella here. Two I REALLY liked and one I thought was okay. This is the second Modiano book I’ve read, I’m going to have to seek him out actively now.
  4. Gilmmer Train #99 (3/5) – Uneven, uneven, uneven.
  5. The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck (5/5) – Wonderful collection of poetry. Gluck’s work is sad and self-aware. I know anonymity is the way with poets, but I feel like she should be more widely known and taught.
  6. Eve, Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi (4/5) – When I finished this book, I had it rated lower, but as happens at times, it’s stayed with me and I’ve found myself considering it with some frequency. Deep Vellum continues to put out excellent works in translation and this book which delves deeply and honestly into the problems with a world seen from the male gaze is no exception.
  7. McSweeney’s #49 (4/5) – First issue in years and I was glad to have it. It’s all cover stories and most of them are great. A few don’t work. Perhaps because what they covered was a little too iconic.
  8. The Complete Shorter Fiction by Herman Melville (2.5/5) – The height of unevenness. Melville can be transcendent. He can also bore to tears. Both are present in more or less equal weight here.
  9. Letters to a Young Writer by Colum McCann (5/5) – One of the best “on writing” books I’ve read. It dispenses mostly with the This Is What You Have To Do nonsense and focuses on the particular kind of honesty and perseverance that is required of a writer.