Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt


Revisiting this after 27 years. Still pretty great. The first-person voice now seems a little tedious. I remember well how shocking and powerful I found it in 1996.

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry


If Maryland ain't pretty country God's a girl. [151]

Amazing Barry streak continues. This is in America, mid 19th century, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Missouri, points west toward Montana. 

Two gay soldiers raise a Native American girl they orphaned. One cross dresses for their years in vaudevill.

They fight in the Indian Wars and in the Civil War. They farm and travel. Everything about Barry's prose style continues to delight, confound, and elude me - how does he do it? Echoes of Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy and maybe Melville. Can be arduous for short periods, but his characters and journey-plot always come back to save one.

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

Small Mercies by Dennis Lehane


The 1974 busing crisis in Boston is the backdrop for racial tensions in Southie. Familiar Lehane territory - and satisfying as usual. The working-class mother on mission of vengeance against the Irish mob and everything she grew up in is marvelous.

Friday, May 05, 2023

A Girl's Story bu Annie Ernaux

This one is ringing more finely than the previous Ernaux books I have read. Don't know why: have I matured in my reading of her, or is this a better book? Familiar pattern of female obsession with the lover. But in this case it's a 17 year old camp counselor losing her viriginity to a callous older guy (21? 24?).

But what is the point of writing if not to unearth things, or even just one thing that cannot be reduced to any kind of psychological or sociological explanation and is not the result of a preconceived idea or demonstration but a narrative: something that emerges from the creases when a story is unfolded, and can help us understand--endure--events that occur and the things that we do? [98]

I am not a culture hound, the only thing that matters to me is to seize life and time, understand, and take pleasure. [149]

It is the absence of meaning in what one lives, at the moment one lives it, which multiplies the possibility of wring...
Explore the gulf between the stupefying reality of things that happen, at the moment they happen, and, years later, the strange unreality in which the things that happened are enveloped. [final page]

Monday, May 01, 2023

Old God's Time by Sebastian Barry

Strange, disorienting, but still beautiful. A Dublin detective in his late 60s retires to a seaside castle flat to dwell on his past, as his mind goes but his will for redemption grows stronger.

Simple Passion by Annie Ernaux


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