Don Hosek - Recent reading

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
1995* (28)
1996 (47)
1997 (74)
1998 (61)
1999 (62)
2000 (27)
2001 (51)
2002 (60)
2003 (37)
2004 (36)
2005 (32)
2006 (46)
2007 (109)
2008 (78)
2009 (65)
2010 (68)
2011 (98)
2012 (129)
2013 (114)
2014 (101)
2015 (88)
2016 (82)
2017 (76)
2018 (67)
2019 (95)
2020 (90)
2021 (85)
2022 (101)
2023 (116)
* Partial year
Street Cop by Robert Coover with drawings by Art Spiegelman
[Finished 1 December 2023] I heard about this book on KCRW’s Bookworm program and decided to order the book from the Italian publisher as it was uncertain if the book would continue to be available for long (it was only the second book from the publisher and there were rumblings that they would only do single press runs of each title). Whether sales were less than expected or they changed their business model, I notice that Isolarii still offers the book for sale.

The book itself is a surreal tale of a criminal-turned-cop-turned-criminal in a dystopian near future where robot cops, mobile buildings, the walking dead and a pervasive fear of “terrorism” rule the day. Spiegelman’s contribution are a series of illustrations which portray the titular character as an adult version of Sluggo from the Nancy comics. I rather enjoyed the story although the format, a tiny book smaller than a deck of cards, seemed unnecessarily precious.

The Night Parade by Jami Nakamura Lin
[Finished 1 December 2023] I was a bit bemused when I saw “a speculative memoir” on the cover of the book, wondering what that could possibly mean. It turns out to be a mix of writing about Japanese (and to a lesser extent Taiwanese) folklore in the context of Lin’s own life with her struggles with bipolar disorder, her father’s death from cancer and giving birth to her first child. An absolutely amazing book and one that merits revisiting.

Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley
[Finished 30 November 2023] A rather brutal book to read, showing how a girl with few options ends up falling into prostitution and then ends up in the center of a scandal regarding police sexual abuse. I was initially skeptical of the book, but the author’s voice and storytelling skill won me over. And to think how young she was when she began the book—I expect big things from Mottley.

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
[Finished 28 November 2023] Danticat’s first novel, it feels autobiographical even though the protagonist shares less with the author than one might assume. It was interesting, but simultaneously felt a bit directionless.

A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer duBois
[Finished 24 November 2023] An intriguing book weighed down by a promise that it cannot keep. A fascinating close-up look at life in Putin’s Russia nevertheless.

Medusa’s Ankles by A. S. Byatt
[Finished 22 November 2023] I didn’t love all of the stories as much as I hoped I would, but it was a nice overview of her career and I’m glad I picked it up when I did.

The Plains by Gerald Murnane
[Finished 21 November 2023] After hearing a lot about Murnane, I decided to pick up one of his books and I wasn’t grabbed the way I hoped I would.

La invención de Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares
[Finished 19 November 2023] A fascinating book. I’m not sure I would ascribe perfection to it, but it is quite amazing. I think it’s worth coming back to it and translating it to fully understand how it works.

Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson
[Finished 17 November 2023] An intriguing story, and a nice use of a frame, but spoiled a bit by an ending that was too on the nose and yet also failed the internal logic of the story.

Final Payments by Mary Gordon
[Finished 17 November 2023] I’d first read Gordon in Best American Catholic Short Stories where I loved her story. I didn’t connect as much to this piece, atlhough it had its moments.