Three Different Books, Three Different Kinds of Silences I Need to Break

Because sometimes, I don’t have the words. And sometimes, what words I have are inadequate. And sometimes, I just want to keep on lying down, with a look of horror / loneliness / disappointment on my face, intent on just letting it all soak in. I like these books, for different reasons — the emotional turmoil I went through; the quiet despair that leeched into me at the book’s close the implicit trust I have for the author, no matter the flaws I find in the text.

I’ve made notes, though most of them are bewildered — either by the sheer genius of the work, or the let-down that I didn’t want it to be. The pages are littered with Post-It flags. And, well. I’ll keep them inside me for a little while longer. [Oh, you can ask questions -- In fact, I welcome them: that'll put some semblance of order to my frazzled nerves. Because I do want to talk about these books, but I don't really know where to start. Never mind the Hows of it. Anyway.] Here they are:

* * *

We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver. Read 09 June.

The Easter Parade, by Richard Yates. Read 24 July.

The Sorrows of an American, by Siri Hustvedt. Read 18 August.


Reading begets reading:

  • I have a copy of Hustvedt’s The Enchantment of Lily Dahl. The last unread Hustvedt on my shelves. I’m trying not to touch it, because I’ve run out of her books to read.  Because I am poor. Amen.
  • As with Hustvedt, I have one last Richard Yates novel in my possession: A Special Providence. I have decided to read all of his work [as with Hustvedt's too, actually]. I have a way to go, and a lot of books I still need to get hold of. But the more of his works I read, the more I’m excited to reread Revolutionary Road. Am I weird?
  • I’ll most definitely reread Shriver’s The Post-Birthday World. [My first reading here.] [Have three copies of that book. Hm.] It has become relevant once again. Don’t judge me.
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15 comments

  1. Funny how even though we all really really need to talk about Kevin, we can’t?

    1. Well-said, Justine. :) This made me laugh out loud at work. And I completely agree.

  2. It seems you ran out of Post-It flags for the other books :) That or the others didn’t have anything Post-It-worthy :)

    1. With The Easter Parade, I just started reading, and never stopped. It was a long, and blessedly empty, weekend. Me, happily lounging in my bed, no energy to even reach for Post-its, haha.

      Hustvedt’s, I’m sad to say, wasn’t that Post-it worthy. Love this author, but this book lacked the lushness and the unabashed sensuality — mixed in with the thought-provoking plot points and concepts — that I love in her other books. Sigh.

      I still love her, though. It’s a formidable love. Implicit trust, still.

  3. Are you telling us not to read the Hustvedt or just not to have expectations that are too high??

    1. I wasn’t happy about this one. It’s not only not as good as the two other novels of hers that I read — on its own, it was just so distant. It’s a book of intellectuals — the narrator is a psychoanalyst, his sister a philosopher, his brother-in-law a writer. There’s no subtlety. Everything was cut-and-dried. What was supposed to be lushness was just very distant, I felt. It was disconcerting.

      But funny enough, I’m not that disappointed, days later. It was a misstep. I’m willing to forgive Hustvedt, haha. I’m willing to suppose, too, that maybe it was just me. Hm.

  4. Perfectly understandable. I get that feeling almost every time I finish a book I really loved. There were times when it took several months before I was moved to write about a book. It’s that fear that nothing I say can applaud the work as it should be, for the only real way to understand how beautiful it really is is to read it. I’ve recently finished Divisadero and I still don’t know how to write about it. As with you, I’ve got several disconnected notes, and I have yet to have an idea how to start.

    But anyway, I’d love to read whatever you write about The Easter Parade.

    1. Sometimes, all I have left in me after a wonderful book are the post-its and scribbles of “Oh god, how’d you do that?!”–as well as that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you know something has changed inside you. Granted, the feeling isn’t always fuzzy, haha. But, you know, I’m happy with that. I’ll take that over writing 800 words about a book that pained me, and not in a good way.

  5. I was tempted to read Hustvedt but the funds couldn’t afford me a copy. Oh well. What are you reading next, Sasha? And are the other copies of Post-Birthday world up for auction? :) Hahaha! Just kidding! I want to see you! :(

  6. We Need To Talk About Kevin is definitely on my to read list, it looks amazing. The other two weren’t on my rader before, but after this post they are. I do know the feeling that sometimes reviews aren’t easy to write.

    1. Shriver’s book is awesome, it’s exhausting, but Shriver just knows how to tell a story, build characters. She knows where to hit you well. It’s still reverberating in me, months after. Also, I recommend anything Yates has written. Though they do tend to leave me very sad, haha. And this particular Hustvedt, well, only if you like her already. :] Her What I Loved is still, well, champion. :]

  7. [...] The Sorrows of an American, by Siri Hustvedt. [...]

  8. [...] The Easter Parade, by Richard Yates [...]

  9. [...] back, I realize that novel might have spoiled me for the rest of her fiction. When I read The Sorrows of an American, the novel she released following What I Loved, I loathed it. I loathed it so much I couldn’t [...]

  10. Hi Sasha, many months ago, I promised myself that I’d ping you when I read Yates. Holy smokes. He can write. I read Revolutionary Road a few weeks ago and just finished The Easter Parade yesterday. I think his prose some of the finest stuff I’ve ever read. He’s right up there with Wharton. His style and treatment of NY may differ from her, but the bloke has got it going, for sure. Cheers, Kevin

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