r e a d i n g r o o m

about : me : contact : i read : others read :
what i read in
: 2006 : 2005 : 2004 : 2003 : 2002 : 2001 : 2000 : 1999 : 1998 : 1997 : 1996

archives: 2006: jan feb mar apr may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec 2005: jan feb mar apr may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec : 2004: jan feb mar apr may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec : 2003: jan feb mar apr may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec : 2002: jan feb mar apr may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec : 2001: may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec


book sections @ papers: Atlanta Journal-Const. : Austin Chronicle : Boston Globe : Charlotte Observer : Chicago Sun-Times : Miami Herald : NYTimes : Philly Daily News : SacBee : Seattle Times : SF Gate : Guardian : Independent : The Age : NZ Herald :

misc. reading: : The Book Standard : Conversational Reading : Elegant Variation : reviews of books : Welcome to the hinterlands : Typeface : Reading matters : bookedy southern scribe : nebraska press : nextbook : girlbomb:

etc.: Edith Wharton Society : Susan Glaspell Society : bookgirl : Asheville Poetry Review : bookworld :

friends: Palace at 2:00 a.m. : Dispatches from Doha courtesy of my bf4ever aka globalnomads : jojo respective : sip on this : on the road w/rolo :


4.25 Padgett Powell & Ella Fitzgerald
4.23 Vladimir Nabokov & Billy Shakespeare
4.22 Ellen Glasgow & Henry Fielding
4.21 Charlotte Bronte & John Muir
4.17 Isak Dinesen & Thornton Wilder
4.15 Henry James
4.13 Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Beckett, & Seamus Heaney
4.12 Beverly Cleary

4.11 Dorothy Allison

4.10 Anne Lamott & Paul Theroux

4.8 Barbara Kingsolver

4.7 Billie Holiday
4.6 Merle Haggard

4.3 Washington Irving & Anne Lister



Monday, April 24, 2006
cowgirl down

Although I haven't returned Blood meridian to the library yet, I gave up on it. Just could not get into it. It's like there was no there there. No depth, maybe. When these things happen, when I don't connect with a book, it makes me wonder how I'm lacking. Why could I not read this perfectly great book? The language and writing are beautiful, but I failed to connect with the Kid. He's just not that compelling, just not that interesting. I kept waiting for something to happen. Who knows? My thought is to buy a copy of it and then dip into it now and then. So yeah, I'm not reading a thing just now. Taking a break.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
back in the saddle

The autobiographical memoir replaces novel as most popular thing to read/write. Trends driving the over-production of memoir: reality tv & the ascent of narrative non-fiction.

Finished Middlesex (2002). It was good. But, his characterization of a nurse from Appalachia bothered me. Apparently she, who was used to the inbreeding of the mountains, didn't notice the narrator's unusual genitalia. Otherwise, it was an alright book. Eugenides doesn't have a new book; will have to wait for it.

I started and finished The mystery of breathing (2004). It's about a neonatologist whose career and confidence take a nose-dive under a nasty campaign to discredit when posters questioning her credentials surface at the hospital. At first I wasn't sure I liked her and couldn't figure out whether the author liked her either. The sympathy factor was a little vague. When her "faults" were pointed out, I couldn't tell if they were faults. For instance, she was characterized as a feminist who was well-aware of the male-bias in medicine. But then we learned more about her childhood and life events and she became more likable.

Laurie Notaro's I love everybody (and other atrocious lies): True tales of a loudmouth girl (2004) was funny. It was supposed to be. The chapters are short and are anecdotal and describe her trip to the grocery store or to Disneyland with her nephew. She's in her thirties, a journalist, and childless but married. So she and I are alike in two respects. I would easily relate to her experiences. She lives in Arizona. Phoenix, I think.

On one of my bookstore trips over the long weekend I sat with several tomes and read through them before buying Susan Straight's new book: A million nightingales (2006) and Sheri Reynolds' first book in like a decade: Firefly Cloak (2006).

Then last night I started Blood meridian (1985). Westerns don't do it for me. But Ron Rash loves this book. As does one of the men who works the circulation desk at my public library. With all that to recommend it.... how can I go wrong? It's sparsely narrated. And violent. I can't tell when it's set; 1840-something or 1940-something. It's the West. But, the Kid rides a mule; haven't seen a car yet, so I'm going with the earlier date. That's helpful. At least I have context now. But will I enjoy the story? It's untelling. But, the writing is something to behold' wish I could savor it instead of rushing through like I'm doing. So then my father, man of few words, had little to say about the Ron Rash book I passed on to him. I asked him if he read it. "Yes," he answered. Did he think it was good? "Yes," again. I hoped for a bit more dialogue about it, but he was just in from work and had collapsed in the recliner. I didn't want to press him. I described Rash's new book but am not sure he was too interested in that with it's contemporary setting and all.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

In case you haven't read Middlesex (2002) and yesterday's brief post didn't cause you to run to your nearest library and check out a copy, I'll write more about it. Our narrator, Cal Stephanides, begins his family saga with a bit about himself; his intersexuality (raised as a girl, he lives as a man), his work for the foreign service, and his current residency in Berlin. Mostly he delves into the lives of his grandparents, Desdemona and Lefty. They are brother and sister born in Greece and escaped after---here my recall is spotty and my history, too-- the Turkish occupation in the early 1920s. They emigrate to America and travel by train to Detroit where their cousin Sourmelina lives. Lefty works at Ford Motor Company until he's fired, then he opens a speakeasy in their basement. Desdemona and Sourmelina get pregnant on the same night and their children are born days apart. Now those children are in their twenties. Desdemonda's son has flat feet and cannot enlist to serve in WW II. Sourmelina's daughter paints her toenails red. The cousins are oddly attracted to each other and I suspect they will marry and produce our protagonist, Cal. Another thing about the book: It won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003. The writing is great, of course, but I'm enjoying learning about Detroit's landscape in the early decades of the twentieth century. My grandfather, of Irish-German extraction, was born in Detroit in 1927 or thereabouts and so it provides excellent context for his early years.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006
fare the well, books

This weekend I scoured my bookshelves for titles I can live without. Then I bagged and loaded them into my trunk. Sometime soon I'll take them to Mr. Kay's for cash.

I'm in the first bit of Middlesex (2002). Amy recommended it (she also has some great book & reading-related goals for 2006) long ago and I'm only getting around to reading it now. It's about an intersexed person of Greek heritage. But there's more to it than that.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Even when I'm not really reading, my thoughts and conversations are about books. Tuesday night I dined with my sister. She loves her art history class. We ate at an Italian restaurant because she recently studied an Italian futurist whose name she forgot; she spied the colors of the Italian flag in one of his paintings. Brancusi, I asked. Yes, she answered. So my art degree and hours spent taking art history classes paid off in a very small way. I'm good at art trivia. That led to talk about her submitting poems to Clinch Mountain Review. Who knew she wrote poetry? I always ask to read her papers, but she forgets to bring them to me. We talked about poets: Coleridge and Poe. But who else? I forget. After dinner we went to the mall and into the bookstore, her favorite store in the mall. I read poems by T.S. Eliot, Poe, and someone else who I've now forgotten. But I didn't buy anything because I try to be good. Jessica though found three or four books and asked me to get them for her. Usually I offer. I didn't think to do so. She promised to pay me back after her babysitting job begins this summer. But I won't ask for the money. She likes reading about fairies, vampires, and the occult. Oh, and anything Celtic.

As I entered the outskirts of home, I veered off the interstate to big box bookstore on the off-chance that they might have the new issue of Selvedge, my favorite magazine. They did. It's a British import that focuses on textiles. It's more book than magazine. Its pages give off that new book aroma that I love and hate. Love 'cause it's just so good and hate 'cause it verges on smelling like cat piss. I grabbed an unmolested copy and went to store's rear to browse their poetry section. I found a few titles that tempted me, but I didn't grab anything. It's that trying not to spend money so freely on books impulse at work again. But I looked at a Marianne Moore volume but would never buy that particular copy. It's pages were yellowed with age. It could not have been more than two years old. Yick.

Then last night in a fit of what-shall-I-read? I browse the shelf I fill with library books. Aha! The Camilla Paglia book about poetry Break, blow, burn: Camille Paglia reads forty-three of the world's best poems (2005). I checked it out from work a few days prior. How prescient. I read the introduction and knew I'd love the book: Good writing comes from good reading. Then there was the bit about the dictionary being Emily Dickinson's bible. Here's the premise: Camille presents a poem, then she analyzes it. Pretty straightforward. The first one was Shakespeare's Sonnet 73. Camille was amazing. I read the poem two or three times and never picked up on as much about it as did she. And, I've always loved John Donne. She gives us three of his, and I loved "The Flea." He was so clever. Despite that one might consider this to be merely a practical tool for the john (short readings while one moves one's bowels), the text moves along nicely. I like her writing. I started Sexual personae (1990) years ago but never finished it. Once I complete Break, blow, burn I may revisit that other. This book is so much fun. And, she's made it accessible to a general audience because she knows that folks outside of academe are interested in poetry. Another thing she mentioned in the intro was that Bloom was her dissertation advisor. That's Harold. And I have a bad opinion of him somehow, though he is a luminary. Oh yes, Naomi Wolf exposed how he sexually harassed her at Yale years ago. Here's another reason to keep him on a short leash: He dismissed Emily Dickinson. Perhaps Break, blow, burn will be more instructive that Bloom's Art of reading poetry(2004), a slim volume I've carried in my bag for a month without actually reading. The photo of the author is not flattering. But, being photogenic does not preclude genius.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006
vodka, country songs & tragedy

While waiting for last night's dinner to be served I read the first few pages of Singing and dancing daughters of God (2005). It's about a man whose life left him. I'm not gonna correct that, cause I liked how it came out. But actually his wife left him, and took their daughter. He drives a school bus. He fills his root beer bottle with vodka and sips from it while driving the kids around. He writes country songs about child murderers who get the death penalty. I smell tragedy. It's set in Nebraska. Omaha, probably. Seems pretty good. It's in the car, so I'll take it around and read on it some. Now that I'm thinking about it, I remember it as fairly clever and the writing is very tolerable; kind of nice-like.

Instead of being in Memphis with all the other librarians soaking up all the Elvis they can, I'm holding down Fort Sherrod. Not alone though, as many comrades passed on shaking booty (or growing cauliflower-sized blisters all over our feet from too much strolling) down in the Birthplace of the Blues.

Monday April 3, 2006
reading slump begins

What else to say? It is the start of April. Somehow the desire to read left me early this weekend.






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