Wednesday, April 26, 2023

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry


Another powerhouse. Madness, murder, mayhem in the Irish 20th century. The tragic life of Roseanne Clear McNulty, daughter of a Presbyterian graveskeeper in Sligo, and her awful manhandling by Catholics, and others. Told from her viewpoint in the present time, turning 100 years old, in her flashbacks over the century, and in the voice of a concerned doctor in the present time who uncovers at least two versions of her sad story.

There are pits of grief obviously that only the grieving know. It is a voyage to the center of the earth, a huge heavy machine boring down into the crust of the earth. And a little man growing wild at the controls. Terrified, terrified, and no turning back. [165]

Morality has its own civil wars, with its own victims in their own time and place.

I Am Not Sidney Poitier by Percival Everett


Thursday, April 20, 2023

No One Left to Come Looking for You by Sam Lipsyte


Nice to read Lipsyte again. And I liked this novel, by the end. Was a little underwhelmed in first half though: prose about punk music almost always leaves me a little underwhelmed. Although Lipsyte is as surprising and wizardly as ever with his sentences. Echoes of Lester Bangs on meth.

I liked his cross-hatching of real-life music references with fictional music references, when they worked - but sometimes I didn't understand at all what style he was pointing toward.

Thursday, April 06, 2023

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power - Volume 1


On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry


Sebastian Barry was completely unknown to me before I read the recent New Yorker profile about him.

This is a gorgeous book. The prose reads like poetry in long stretches, almost impossible to quote. And the plot coils very, very quietly, waiting to strike.

Her sense of the delicious is maybe part of that effort, not to dwell on terrible things.

'Telling his beads, o'er and o'er. [130]

How is it that the human body is designed sometimes to melt into a white lineny bed, in the city of New York, and couples on linen beds in all the cities of the world, trying to climb into each other's skins? That's one queer, wonderful creature. [138]

'The past is a crying child, that's for sure,' said Joe, 'but it will all be made up to him in the coming times. Yes, sir.' [141]

But for those moments he had brought me back to the pact we make with life. That we will see through and live it according to the length of time bestowed on us. The gift of life, oftentimes so difficult to accept, the horse whose teeth we are so often inclined to inspect. [171]

'I want you to tell Bill that his father loves him dearly, will you do that?'
'Of course I will.'
I was thinking, it's hard for a child to understand a love like that. He would rather go fishing with his father than hear such a declaration. But I knew Ed existed in a parsimonious place. He had only the farthings and pence of love to give. [229]

Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Foster by Claire Keegan


A stunning story. Haven't seen the film but plan. Just amazing, the compression of the story and characters.

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