Monday, May 28, 2012

The Spring 2012 Reading List Wrap-up

I am beside myself with delight at the books I've endeavored for the spring reading list. For a strange reason, I chose only four books this go around. I think it may have been because I found the winter reading list difficult to execute. But of the four on the list, and the addition of a fifth book, I read through everything quickly with pleasure and zeal. And as far as any writer could hope, I learned something too. I learned about the crafting of novel, mostly because I was looking at craft. I also chose pretty good books.

The Bellatin, The Beauty Salon, was picked for me by a coworker. We had been talking about Latin American literature at work one night and she suggested this tiny book. A novella in every right it is a strange, if not delightful read. Apparently, Bellatin takes inspiration from Haruki Murakami. I see that on nearly ever page too. Again, perhaps I see it on every page because I look for it. But as far as this novella form goes, a form I am immensely fond, I put this book on the same level as Kneller's Happy Campers, The Sad Summer of Samuel S and Things That Hang From Trees. I think the novella is an often overlooked form and I wish it wasn't. These sort pieces tend to get to the point very quickly, they rise in fast fashion and have shocking discoveries. And the best part is the relationship the reader has with them. With such short pieces, the reader moves through the pages quickly and then (this reader, at least) will spend ten times as long absorbing the story.

Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop never once ceased to amaze me. If you have ever read any of her Nebraska books and fallen in love with her prairie descriptions, just wait to see what she can do with the high dry lonely places of New Mexico. The story is told in episodes. The story is told over an entire generation. The story is the taming of the west, the taming of the church, the end of old histories.

Tom Robbins? I remember really loving his novels when I was in my early twenties. Admittedly, I did not care for Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates. In fact, the book was tedious at times. But in retrospect, I grew an appreciation for it.

Here's where I diverged from my list. I read the first of Lemony Snickett's Series of Unfortunate Events, The Bad Beginning. Don't laugh. I will read the entire series of 13 books. I had so much fun with this book that I imagine I will read the rest of these before year's end.


Lolita. I hope two things about this book. First, I hope that it will always be banned; and second, I hope it never goes out of print. This is a must read. This book is so confoundedly brilliant that all I can say about it is “wow.” I don't know what to think, I can't get a grip on the narration, I can't get a true understanding of the narrator, Humbert Humbert, other than there is one amazing story here. I see how this made such an impact in the 1950s. And to think that this writer, Russian, wrote the book in English. The mastery of language, particularly spoken through a strange European narrator is fascinating. I would imagine that it will take me some time to fully understand what it is that I read within Nabokov's pages. I'm prepared to let these pages sink in.

Incidentally, these books, all of them, saw me through the tough time I shared with my last and latest manuscript. I wonder how much of the varying language followed me through the undulating pages of my novel writing experience?  

No comments:

Post a Comment