I tend to be a voracious reader, and I read widely. This list has its origins in an old signature file which I would update periodically with the current book that I was reading. That gradually transmogrified itself into the current massive archive with brief reviews.
|What I've been reading lately|
|Number of books read and reviewed each year|
|* Partial year|
[Finished 17 June 2013] As a poet, Thomas Hardy is a pretty good novelist. There are some (rare) moments of poetic brilliance here, but most of the volume is rather forgettable. Hardy is most inclined towards narrative poems telling tales that verge on the gothic. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of reading Hardys poetry is realizing how far into the twentieth century Hardy lived. He gave up novel writing at the end of the nineteenth century but was writing poems write up to his death in 1928, with poems touching on subjects such as the sinking of the Titanic, World War I and most surprisingly Albert Einsteins theories.
[Finished 15 June 2013] Were moving to a point in the story now where the zombies have become more of a background threat with the real danger being the other humans and the struggle to rebuild civilization. Negans character is developing as an interesting villain, although it seems difficult to understand exactly why the people in his community follow him given his somewhat capricious nature.
[Finished 13 June 2013] I found this book to be a bit dull and prescriptive. I think a big part of it is that its really geared towards the beginning writer and having never taken a beginning creative writing class, I cant really place this into my own context. Other people seem to like it a lot more.
[Finished 11 June 2013] The story picks up a bit building towards the final act, but the art continues to mar things. There were more than a few occasions when I had to turn back a few pages matching outfits to figure out who some of the characters were supposed to be.
[Finished 10 June 2013] After hearing Gilmore interviewed on Fresh Air, I thought that this would be an interesting read. And there are times when Gilmore manages to convey well the emotions surrounding infertility and adoption, but it seems like theres a wide swath of the novel which is dedicated to some poorly crafted characterization exercises and the actual experiences with the birth mothers felt rushed as Gilmore consigned these to the last fifth of the book. Add on what felt like some generally lazy writing and poor proofreading and overall I felt like I got more from her interview than from her novel.
[Finished 6 June 2013] Reading for my MFA program, I found this book, unlike Johnsons fiction, to be a bit offputting. There were occasional flashes of brilliance, but most of it felt rather mundane.
[Finished 5 June 2013] A book about more than its ostensible topic, the stories and people behind for sale listings from The Pennysaver. Its also about Julys own creative process both in the writing of this book and in the writing of the movie she was working on at the same time. Unlike the short story collection that I read, there seemed to be an undercurrent of honesty and courage that her fiction lacked. It does make me more interested to see The Future having read the book.
[Finished 4 June 2013] Just absolutely amazing. Id previously read Perecs A Void which was written without the use of the letter E (and perhaps more impressively, then translated into English without the use of the letter E). But Perec is no one-trick pony. Here he tells the story of an entire building, going off on delightful digressions based on the contents or previous residents of the buildings apartments, while simultaneously playing with the concept of an artist who painted watercolors which were made into jigsaw puzzles, re-assembled, restored to being watercolors then returned to the place of their creation where the paint was removed returning the paper on which the paintings were made to their original blank states. Everything in the building is detailed from lists of things found on the staircases to the furnishings of the apartments to the detritus abandoned in the cellars. Seriously, just go and read this book. Youll love it.
[Finished 3 June 2013] An occasionally beautiful, occasionally frustrating collection of stories. Theres an undercurrent of loneliness throughout Julys work here which when it comes a little closer to the surface enjances her prose, but too often gets pushed away as more a joke than anything else.
[Finished 21 May 2013] An amazingly comprehensive collection of Carvers fiction. The inclusion of both What We Talk About When We Talk About Love and Beginners provides an interesting opportunity for seeing Gordon Lishs editing process at work.
There’s the cliché among writers of “killing your darlings.” Comparing the Lish and Carver versions of the stories, Lish not only killed Carver’s darlings, but he burned down their houses, and tracked down and slaughtered all of the darlings’ friends and relatives. In many cases, the Lish version of the story was half the length (if not less) of the original Carver version and the excisions almost always improved the story, allowing the central Truth to shine without so much unnecessary explaining (“Tell the Women We’re Going” is a notable example of this with Lish eliminating a lot of unnecessary explanation behind the motivation for the murder of the girls—as well as having Jerry kill both girls and not just one as was the case in the original story). There are some bizarre emendations made by Lish though. I can’t help but wonder what made him change the room number in “Gazebo” or the name of the cardiologist in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.”
The small selection of Carvers essays is another nice bonus, providing a chance to get some insight into Carvers own view of his writing process. I entered this volume having never read a Carver short story and I left it a huge Carver fan.