Monday, January 23, 2023

Matilda by Roald Dahl


Getting Lost by Annie Ernaux


Annie Ernaux in New Yorker profile talks about old age (she will be 82), and how "I will never remember my old age."

I found it compelling reading and tore through this, but must admit it was the sex I was interested in and not incessant longing and sadness. She limits the scope of her diary entries very much to the story of her affair with the Russian man, S., who is 35 years old to her 48. And S. does not come off well -- boorish and anti-intellectual, a Stalin fan. We hear almost nothing of her two children, though they're often in the apartment with her. She refers to her other great passions mostly by the year in which they happen. I'm interested in reading the other memoir to see what depth they lend to this story, in my memory.

It's not much of a story, just a layer of egocentric suffering. Yet I know that it is through this layer of suffering that I communicate with the rest of humanity. [169, 7 Stories Press Edition]

Yesterday, it came to me with a certainty that I write my love stories and live my books, in a perpetual round dance. [171]

Monday, January 09, 2023

The Trees by Percival Everett


Never read a book like this before! Racial injustice and a history of lynching in the U.S. - and dozens of small-town characters, each quickly and indelibly sketched. 

It reads so quickly you almost forget the heaviness of the theme.

The structure - very short chapter 1-3 pages - lend an extraordinary quickening to the plot, and it is a breathless style, following a classic detective/police procedural model.

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Kill 'Em and Leave by James McBride


Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver


Loving this, DAVID COPPERFIELD cast in Appalachia, voice of a young foster child/orphan, opioid addiction and coal country poverty. High school football world skillfully sketched by Kingsolver. Pre-sad that it's almost over (300+ pages in).

Really wonderful, enjoyable reading. Hard to remember a long (500+ pages) novel that I relished as much. Wise and sweeping and loving, a mutli-dimensional panorama of southern Virginia, TN and KY that I've certainly never seen before.

Getting clean is like taking care of a sick person, versus being the sick person. They get all the points for bravery, but they're locked in. You have to get up every morning and decide again, in the cold lonely light of day, am I brave enough to stick this out? [p. 509]

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield


Couldn't finish. Same sex women, atmospherically done. Lost interest.

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver


Beautiful heavy book. 1992? First Kingsolver I've ever read, in preparating for DEMON COPPERHEAD.

About sisters in Arizona, environmental/political issues of the 1980s (one sister goes to Nicaragua to aid the contras).

Beautiful description of why the liver, and not the heart, should be the metaphor for human desire and soul. Heart is an incredibly strong, tough muscle, difficult to cut into and repair. Liver is like a stack of damp tissue paper, dissolving at the touch.


Monday, November 28, 2022

The Abstainer by Ian McGuire


Fenians in Manchester, England and in the U.S. in the period right after the American Civil War.

Liked it, but nowhere near as powerful as his THE NORTH WATER.

It is the solitude of death that frightens him. Not the pain but the loneliness.

Everything different, he thinks, but everything the same. Time becomes memory, and memory becomes the ditch where we drown. [244]

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