Monthly Archives: January 2011

January 2011 Reads

Well. January 2011 was not a bad month for reading [and blogging] — here’s hoping that the rest of the year will bring with it as much book-dorkery as this month has, if better. So. This is what I read, and hello there, 2011: The Bookshop, by Penelope Fitzgerald. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by […]

Alberto Manguel, A History of Reading, and our “essential function”

There is nowhere to begin with A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel when you’ve got a mind as speckle-y and inane as mine. Faced with this kind of book-dorkery-in-a-book, the tendency is to quote long passages from each of the chapters, and [over-] share personal experience that basically says, “I agree, I agree!” [I […]

“Why does tragedy exist?” – On Grief Lessons: Four Plays by Euripides; translated and with an introduction by Anne Carson

The Ancient Greeks intimidate me. As they should, I suppose. I have an endless fascination with mythology, and, sadly, what feats of human spirit I encountered were mere brushes against the immortals. And so, very young, I learned of Odysseus and Theseus and Herakles and Helen and a host of other fated humans, and they, […]

Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness, “the emotional housekeeping of the world,” and simple goodness

I’ve known this for a long time, and it always give me a thrill having it reaffirmed time and time again: Alice Munro is one of the best short story writers ever. Her latest collection, Too Much Happiness, was stunning—with complex characters and grand narratives and fluid prose, the stories pretty much pitch-perfect. I read […]

“She loves me, my mother. She loves me as much as ever. It is the once certainty in her uncertain life.” – On The Furies by Janet Hobhouse

The Furies—a thinly disguised memoir—by Janet Hobhouse is one of the most complex, most powerfully written, and most affective stories I’ve ever read. And it’s made richer by the truths behind it. As it begins, there’s the impression that it’s a novel of women—a saga—a family of women: “four generations of almost mystical Machinaean symmetry […]

The man to his son: “I will not send you into the darkness alone.”

In Cormac McCarthy’s celebrated The Road—we are in a world of pervading darkness and gloom, of desperation—There were few nights lying in the dark that he did not envy the dead.—of a world turned to ash. He walked out into the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth […]

I Hereby Take Umbrage

Some books are yours. That even though you’re content to twiddle your thumbs and indulge in boundless book love in your corner of the vast interwebz, you have to add to the pot-stirring amid the cobwebs around you because there are very objectionable [and unconscionable] things being said about your book, and that won’t do, […]

“There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will.”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I talk about my experiences with the classics—how I share them with y’all. And I’ve realized—I’ll flesh this out more fully later—that with the classics, I’m more reactionary in my posts, when I’ve always tried to be a balance of visceral response and critique. Well. The following […]

This Paul Auster, this!

I. I have finally read a Paul Auster that I wholeheartedly like in his fifteenth novel, Invisible. My odd relationship with Auster’s fiction has made me his wary reader. I like the cerebral-ness of his works, yes, appreciate the craft — Auster the Trickster. But I always feel this lack of engagement. Auster The trickster […]

Reading About Writing

Near the start of the year, delivering late Christmas presents to a friend’s children, I unearthed Ben Yagoda’s The Sound on the Page, subtitled “Great Writers Talk About Style and Voice in Writing.” Everybody who writes is engaged in the remarkable enterprise of making consciousness manifest — catching the slipperiest of substance, a thought, and […]