I’m not sure why, but some time ago I stopped reviewing books on these here pages. Which might lead you to believe that I stopped reading, but in fact I’ve been reading all along, not at the same pace to be sure, but reading nonetheless. Here is a list of books I’ve read since, oh, January, with a few words by way of review:
The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen
I read this in one day over the Christmas holidays and it was perfect. Perfectly perfect, in fact. I don’t think I would recommend reading it any other way. And that’s all I will say because it was 6 months ago and I’ve forgotten everything else about it.
Vernon God Little, DBC Pierre
Scathingly good. Someone, I can’t remember who, compared this book to A Confederacy of Dunces, one of my favourite books of all time, and as soon as I read that, I knew I had to give Vernon a try. And it was good (scathingly good, I did say), although it did not leave the same indelible impression upon me that Confederacy did. That’s all.
Happenstance, Carol Shields
Oh, Carol Shields, I never can tire of you! Happenstance is one of Shields’ earlier novels, a single tale told from the perspective of both a husband and a wife. The wife is a quilter and the husband is a middling academic with a severe case of imposter syndrome. So, I identified with them both!
Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology, Eric Brende
I was unconvinced by this book. Quick recap: as part of his research for his grad work on the influence of technology on society, Brende moves into an Amish/Mennonite community (he doesn’t identify the community) for 18 months to live as the “natives” do, without machinery/technology. The notion of living off the tech-grid appeals to me in the most paradoxical of ways (how quaint to live without the trappings of 21st Century life! But, wait! I get jittery when I’m away from my computer for too long!), and I’m not sure I can put my finger on exactly what it was about this book that didn’t convince me — was it that I didn’t get a good sense of how much Brende and his wife really “bought into” what they were trying to do? was it the unimaginative tone of the narrative? (I admit, I’m seduced by purple prose) — probably a combination of the two.
Jane Austen: A Life, Carol Shields
Carol Sheilds made me feel like Jane Austen is my friend, and for that I am truly grateful. Beyond words.
The Music of Chance, Paul Auster
Forgettable. Seriously, I have no recollection of having read this book and, if I hadn’t written it down, it would have been lost to memory altogether. Which should tell you something.
Raymond & Hannah, Stephen Marche
Umm, good. I mentioned before that I went to grad school with Stephen, and this novel is set in the same institution (University of Toronto), in the same department (English). Which is why I couldn’t just let myself settle into it as a novel: for me, Raymond was a thinly veiled Stephen and, for better or worse (probably worse), I found myself deconstructing every grad student and faculty member Raymond met at every party he went to (I wonder if that’s X? Could that be Professor Y? Ooh! That sounds suspiciously like Mr. Z!). You get the idea. I almost feel like I should read it again, to do it justice. But I won’t.
Spending: a Novel, Mary Gordon
I picked this up from the library on a recommendation from Jill. Go read her review, she sums it up better than I could.
There, then. I feel like I’ve caught up. I’m going to start up the regular reviews again, and in anticipation, I’ve added a “currently consuming” list over in the sidebar for books and music currently in the hopper. Which is a perfectly clunky segue into asking you if you’ve heard the new Keane & Blue October albums. Have you? They’re both quite delicious.
PS: Thank you for your movie recommendations! I have at least 7 rentals (and one maybe trip to the movie theatre) lined up as an antidote to the insufferable movie-mediocrity in which we’ve been wallowing lately. You’re so good to me, kind readers, thankyouthankyou!