|I copy and pasted from my last entry about this and then added on.
||[Aug. 16th, 2009|12:11 pm]
how am i not myself
Books read so far this summer, with some half-assed "reviews" for your imminent(immanant, perhaps, for I, Lucifer. God, I'm hilarious) ignoring:
The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell
I actually wrote a big schpiel instigated by this book and posted it here a ways back but you all probably ignored it as it was mostly masturbatory and it was kind of long and stupid. I'll just say that I liked this collection a lot and identify with Vowell in a lot of ways and she's a very funny lady. I like funny ladies.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
This was really good. It reminded me of Atonement in its quietude. Both McEwan and Ishiguro are really great at describing the kinds of things kids do and think about when they're alone. Wonderful.
I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan
This was a bit too clever, I thought, but it redeemed itself by the end in which I actually kind of gave a shit about the characters. I am of the Stephen King school of thought where I believe the ending is the most important part of a story, so I guess I'd still say I liked it. Nonetheless, there were parts where I thought Duncan was trying a bit too hard to be funny. I tend to be really critical of that kind of thing because I'm guilty of that as well as part of my, like, personality, so there's that disclosure. Regardless, he could have toned it down a bit.
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
This is what most of the first season of True Blood is based on, which is why I read it. Harris isn't a very good writer and it wasn't very surprising because the series is apparently very true to the book. I'll probably read the other books, though, as I read this in an afternoon and it wasn't a total bore.
Morality Play by Barry Unsworth
A medieval murder mystery! It also was about a group of players during the Black Plague and it was so interesting and insightful about what it means to be a performer! I liked this book a lot!
V. by Thomas Pynchon
Oh Christ. As I was reading this, I texted my friend Pat when I got to the funny parts, which were numerous. I finished this a couple weeks ago; I'm pretty sure I don't really get what happened and I'm pretty sure Pynchon hates women but he has a really excellent turn of phrase and I was never actually bored despite the fact that I'm fairly certain this book is too smart for me. I hate it when books are smarter than me. The Great Postmodern Tome! I did like the book though and I really did think it was very funny and there are some really wonderful passages that are really ~*~thought-provoking~*~ which is kind of a meaningless term but WHATEVS.
All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Really sustained and beautiful. Took 100 pages for me to really get invested, though. I still prefer No Country and The Road, though, I think.
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Really, really wonderful. I sort of marvel at family saga stories like this in the same way I marvel at epic fantasy, like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter et al. The distinction between them being, however, that I find generational tales more easy to relate to, probably for obvious reasons--I know what it's like to have a family, I don't know what it's like to speak Elvish, etc. To be honest, though, up to this point sagas like this have never really grabbed me like this one. Although there is something to be said for the emotional manipulation inherent to family saga narratives (you stick with characters long enough and know enough of their backstory, it's inevitable you'll become invested) there was so much more at stake, I think, in White Teeth than in a lot of other books of the genre. This book is about migration, about immigration, about the price of both change and stasis, about identity and about so much more. Everything was so situated, my critical theory-laden Grinnell educated self was practically peeing. Great book. You should totally read it.
Short Cuts by Raymond Carver
I'm confused as to whether or not this was an original collection, or just something that came out after the movie. Nevertheless, it's a solid anthology, and I really like the way Carver writes and what he writes about. Small events. Conversations. Lifetimes. Wonderful.
Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins
It was kind of refreshing to read this after the McCarthy; Robbins uses long sentences rather than short more often than not, although I wouldn't say he's in opposition to polysyndeton. That's not what was so refreshing, though. For example, he writes at one point:
"But then there came a thunderous pounding at both the back door and the front, and I realized, like the president of the Amos 'n' Andy fan club, that my desires had become obsolete"--pg. 285
I didn't like this as much as Still Life with Woodpecker, though. It was kinda boring and a little sexist in the same way psychedelic dudes from the '60s and '70s typically wrote.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Wonderful. I realize I'm like 10 years behind the rest of the world on this one, but I was so glad I trudged along for this one. The ending was quietly devastating, which I realize is totally the type of thing Publishers Weekly or somebody writes but it's totally true so whatever, suck it. Anyway, what a good book!
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I really liked how self-conscious this was; a thinly-veiled autobigraphical account of what it's like to come of age as a privileged white male in the '20s. Amory Blaine is not a likeable character, which made it a little hard to get through. I laughed a lot, though, and Fitzgerald is, obviously, an excellent writer.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Re-read. Still the worst book in the series.
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
God, this series is so bad. But True Blood is so good! I will continue to read all of them, but GOD, does her writing ever improve?
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Good. Zadie Smith writes endings real good. She also does this thing where she writes stuff that everybody thinks but doesn't say, but not in a "lol people are awkward" way. More in a "wow people are all the fucking same and it's so depressing/ugly/beautiful" way.
The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy
Gosh, this book was hard to get through. I liked it a lot, though. Some really, really haunting images.
Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
Why do I keep doing this to myself