Tag Archives: Fiction – Novel

On THE PUMPKIN EATER by Penelope Mortimer

“So we were back at the beginning again.”

Some books announce themselves with a punch to the gut, some with a sting. Some sneak up on you and take care to embrace you with a numbness that expands as you need it to—all the better to prepare you for the sick, sly shock of recognition. Of course: The trap that awaits me whenever I seek to feel less alone with books points to the seeming ubiquity of scenes from my life. My story is not the most original thing, is the reminder; devastations like mine are never unique. See: Someone long dead has already conjured the very words that carved out something bright and soft and essential from within you, and set them to a fiction. [Continue reading.]

Madame Bovary, Sasha Martinez

Regarding longing

Consider the peculiar dangers of provoking desire through the books one reads; how words on a page can remind you of a longing you thought you’d long ago calmed, or tease you into considering the weight of someone else’s gaze, or galvanize you into crossing a once interminable distance to take the wrong person’s hand in yours and confess a wanting. Consider this unflinching definition of desire, brought forward by Siri Hustvedt via the very first line of an essay: “Always a hunger for something, and it always propels us somewhere else, toward the thing that is missing.” (And, here, remind yourself of Anne Carson declaring, “Desire moves. Eros is a verb.”) See yourself armed—first with your library, and then perhaps (of course) with your longings. And then, please, consider yourself in a reality where you moved, arms laden with the books that compelled you. [Continue reading?]

OFFILL — Dept. of Speculation

The devastations of Jenny Offill

There is nowhere to cry in this city, Jenny Offill writes. And also: But she is tired all the time now. She can feel how slowly she is walking, as if the air itself is something to be reckoned with. But, then, also: There’s that moment, you know, for most people, where you decide you want to wake up in the world one more day. [Continue reading.]

ex02 — Bryson, Catton, and Saunders

Saunders, Catton, Bryson

I’ve been having one of the most challenging and exciting and dorkful reading life lately. At the heels of the first installment of The Annotated TBR, I started reading The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and couldn’t help but dive into A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. And, because both books were (or either of them was) ridiculous for me to transport that one time I had to show up for a meeting, I also started George Saunders’ much-lauded, was-everywhere-in-2013 Tenth of December collection. I’m having so much fun. [Continue reading.]

ex02 — Annotated TBR, Baby Bookshelves Edition

The Annotated TBR #01

Here’s the first installment—because I expect there to be many—of The Annotated TBR. That is: Here’s a selection of some of the books in my to-be-read list; here are the books that, when I first held them at the bookstore, I felt that I should read at the very soonest, read right that minute, possessed and squirreled away. Basically: Here are the books I’ve ignored for the longest time. Maybe it’s a way to make amends? Maybe it’s a way to push myself? Maybe it’s a way to revisit that initial need and that urgency. We’ll see. [Continue reading.]

ex02 — February, Thus Far

February, thus far

I’ve kept up the wonky momentum of January—characterized by good books and really good books resolving to nudge away a smattering of meh books—up until the start of February, but I’m seeing the possibility of even that faulty system flagging. This is, I am aware, an as-faulty observation—since three of the four books I’ve read since the month began were really, really good books. It’s only that, I suppose, I’ve more recently been mired in books I can’t bring myself to care for—books that I have been excited for, and books that would really be for me if some secret thing inside me wasn’t so listless lately. I look at my bookshelves and think horrible thoughts, among them: How can I be so drawn to all of you, but nothing at this moment appeals? [Continue reading.]

FFORDE - The Eyre Affair

Proxy Brontës

There ought to be a term for the bookish adultery that compels you to actively search for echoes—or even reiterations—of books you’ve loved for the longest time. Then again, the brand of fidelity attached to this venture is a curious, if twisted, thing, too—you welcome things that remind you of the original, which would always, always have its fist wrapped around your fervently beating-for-it heart. I am talking about Jane Eyre. In this instance. [Continue reading.]

LAWRENCE - Lady Chatterley's Lover

On constancy

Of course I would love Lady Chatterley’s Lover, of course, of course, of course. I will always be partial to restless women—restless for one reason or another—and Lady Constance Chatterley belongs now to that specific pantheon in my head, with the likes of Emma Bovary, of April Wheeler. Women who desire, women who want something and want for something—these are the people my bibliophilic heart beats heaviest for. (And, hah, not to mention their illicit loves and the series of delightfully cathartic poor judgment calls and the convoluted ways they try to make themselves happy.) [Continue reading.]

GREY — The Juliette Society

Neither porn nor romance

But Sasha Grey absolutely did not write an erotic romance in The Juliette Society; it’s more dangerous, for one, and follows more faithfully the tradition of erotica. That is: Grey’s book isn’t a romance with graphic sex scenes, which usually [tediously] involved forays into a poorly conceived BDSM culture. Sasha Grey isn’t a hanger-on of James’ [utterly frustrating] success—I am arguing that Sasha Grey, with The Juliette Society, was writing under the house of Anaïs Nin, even of Pauline Réage. [Continue reading.]

NIGHT FILM by Marisha Pessl, THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt, DOCTOR SLEEP by Stephen King

Last year’s comebacks

I got caught in a lot of hype last year, mostly of the for-the-comeback variety: Good authors who’d taken their sweet time coming out with a new book, good authors who’ve just kept on writing but managed to hit the sweeter spot this time around. I have this notion about myself that I steer clear of hype, because it’s just the publishing world lying to me, but this is obviously flawed thinking. And so I like to console myself that the comeback-hype is the better kind of hype to fall prey to—one that has basis, plus the odds are with you because you know that it’s worked for you before? It’s more infectious, too: The hype was more of the bookish internet slaying everyone with a celebratory cheer: Marisha Pessl had a new book, Donna Tartt had a new book, J.K. Rowling kicked everyone’s asses and proved she still had a good book under her belt, Stephen King wouldn’t fucking relent and just kept getting better. [Continue reading.]