Thursday, April 11, 2013

Paltry reading

This is sad. The entire first quarter was sad and the sluggish reading pace continues. Unless things change I'll probably finish out 2013 having completed fewer books than at any time since 1994.

I think I'm going to have to rethink all social reading commitments until I get a handle on the other obligations that have to take precedent--I'm still back at the Jean Rhys section in Stet and I never even started Doctor Glas for the Slaves back in January. And I think I'm going to need to restrict my reading to books that wholly engage my attention or else I won't get through them at all.


The last few weeks' meager few finishes:

Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked. James Lasdun. I had a one-night stand on the Double Dog Dare with this one and I do not feel guilty; if I'd known about it beforehand, I would have caveated it in, for reasons I won't go into. I take issue with Lasdun's insistence that Nasreen must be sane so that he can have a "morally engaging antagonist" for "interesting," "literary purposes," but otherwise, I have great sympathy for him for what she's put him through.

The Waterworks. E.L. Doctorow. I read somewhere that this was a tribute to Poe. I enjoyed it more for the period details and was perplexed by the narrator's overuse of ellipses. I don't believe this was a newspaper convention of the time and C. assures me that Poe wasn't overly fond of ellipses either, so I don't know what effect Doctorow was going for here. Read this if you want something literary for Carl's RIP Challenge.

The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life. Ann Patchett. This was a Kindle single, really more of an essay than a book.

Good-bye to All That. Robert Graves. Dare I attempt The White Goddess now? Er, not anytime soon.

The Imperfectionists. Tom Rachman. For book club. I was the only one who truly enjoyed it, I'm sorry to say. Crazy sad newspaper people amuse me.

The Burgess Boys. Elizabeth Strout.Although I can find where Anne Tyler has recommended Elizabeth Strout, I cannot find confirmation that Strout has ever mentioned reading Tyler. Nevertheless, to me The Burgess Boys reads as if Strout has internalized all the Anne Tyler novels over the years. Spotting these influences, or intentional nods, as I went through this made me deliriously happy. I realize this book isn't working as well for the very people who originally turned me on to Strout back when Amy and Isabelle first came out (i.e., the old Readerville crowd), but I really loved this book.


  1. I was shying away from The Burgess Boys, but now that I see you've read and loved it, I'll read it, too. Going on your say-so!

  2. I think you'll be able to tell early on whether or not it's going to work for you. I expect it will, since you're an Anne Tyler reader as well.

  3. Strout has just recently been on my radar, but I hadn't heard this about the possible Tyler influence. Must check out The Burgess Boys.

  4. It's been a slow first quarter of the year for me too. it can only get better right? At least I hope so!

  5. None of our local libraries have ordered 'The Burgess Boys' and I've been dithering over whether or not to buy it. I think you've just pushed me over the edge.

  6. I'm glad to hear you liked The Burgess Boys. I've loved the other Strout books I've read (haven't gotten to Amy and Isabelle yet) and look forward to more.

  7. Paltry reading seems to be the norm for me lately, too; either the book's one of those mediocre and unaffecting "Myeh" reads, or the book's just an offense to literature itself.

    Good luck to you, to both of us. Like you, I've resolved to stop reading books that'll simply pass the time. I mean, we have to demand more, right?

  8. Yes I found Strout through and Anne Tyler interview, too. Didn't know she had a new book out. While I liked Oliver Kitteridge I found it rather depressing. Can't imagine anyone being ABLE to write like Anne Tyler!

  9. Of course that should be Olive not Oliver.

  10. Even during your "paltry" times, you are reading more than I am.
    For several reasons, this year 2013 is going to be a slow reading year for me, as compared to any other year in the past twenty.


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