Three Bags Full

Three Bags Full - Leonie Swann I didn't love the ending, but I did love the rest of the book. Looking forward to the next one!

Don't Cry

Don't Cry - Mary Gaitskill Didn't like it, but will try another of her books. This just seemed to be portraits of ugliness, for ugliness's sake.

Epitaph for a Tramp & Epitaph for a Dead Beat: The Harry Fannin Detective Novels

Epitaph for a Tramp & Epitaph for a Dead Beat: The Harry Fannin Detective Novels - David Markson For such a total square, Harry Fannin sure knows a lot of cool cats. He also has worse luck with the dames than any other fictional detective I know.

A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon: New (Soma)tics

A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon: New (Soma)tics - C.A. Conrad "DO NOT HESITATE to write the most brutal things that come to mind, HESITATE at nothing for that matter."

"I'm tired of poetry not saving the world"

Me too. I love this book.

re:f (gesture)

re:f (gesture) - Percival Everett Even though I'm only giving it 4 stars, I think this is my favorite of his books of poems. The first poem, Zulus, is the best, in my opinion. It treats more overtly themes he lightly touches in his fiction. I liked it very much, and I saw/heard echos of his most recent work (Percival Everett by Virgil Russell) in it, especially certain words and phrases, which made me realize that the Virgil Russell novel is his most poetic novel so far, especially in the way that he takes liberties with spellings, meanings and with collapsing words into each other.

The second poem, Body, frightens me. In it he examines very small components of the human body with a clinical detachment that is normally not seen outside of television/films depicting the character of psychopaths. I actually wondered whether he may have been writing it as reflections on an actual post-mortem dissection, but by the end of the poem, I was beginning to think that perhaps it was, instead, a meditation on the life and development of an expected child. Either way, I found it deeply unsettling and creepy. Pure PE.

Traveler of the Century

Traveler of the Century - Andrés Neuman, Nick Caistor, Lorenza Garcia I just couldn't get into it. Gave it 100 pages and then gave up. Sorry, book!


Noon - Aatish Taseer This novel had a lot of material to work with, upper class society in India, upper class society in Pakistan, the differences and relations between the two, sexuality and homosexuality in Pakistan, the inner workings of a telecommunications conglomerate in Pakistan, etc. But it turned out to be just a tale of an overprivileged, entitled, lazy young man having an epiphany about his complicity in social ills, and about a spoiled man who suffers emotionally because of estrangement from his father. The potential was there, but the narrative was disconnected, the drama wasn't dramatic, and it was filled with truisms and adolescent cliches. A disappointment.


HAS NO KINSMEN - Kimberly Burwick WorldCat lists Percival Everett as a coauthor. Art, maybe? An introduction?

The Death Ship

The Death Ship - B. Traven looks like i have a new favorite.

Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace My second read of Infinite Jest, still 5 stars, but it affected me differently this time around. I'm not sure how to review it, so I've compiled a list (from various internet sources) of events from 1996, instead.

Blizzard buries eastern U.S. causing at least 50 deaths
Israel frees hundreds of Palestinian prisoners
Lisa Marie Presley files for divorce from Michael Jackson
Germany celebrates it's 1st Holocaust Rememberance Day
Publication of Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace
IBM's Deep Blue defeats chess champ Gary Kasparov
Rock musical "Rent," by Jonathan Larson, opens off-Broadway
Mike Tyson beats Frank Bruno in 3rd round to gain Heavyweight title
Winnie Mandela divorces Nelson after 38 years of marriage
Erik and Lyle Menendez found guilty of killing their parents
U.K. outbreak of Mad Cow Disease
FBI arrests the Unibomber
A California School board recognizes Ebonics as a separate language
China performs nuclear test at Lop Nor PRC
Intel releases 200 mhz pentium chip
Federal Court judges overturn U.S. indecency ban on internet
South Africa adopts a permanent post-apartheid constitution
Nintendo 64 goes on sale in Japan
Scientists clone Dolly the sheep
O. J. Simpson charged with murder
HotMail, a free internet E-mail service begins
Hundreds of hostages taken at the Japanese embassy in Peru
Prince Charles and Princess Di sign divorce papers
Southern Mexico hit with 6.5 earthquake
230 people die when TWA 800 crashes outside of New York City
NASA announces that life may have existed on Mars
Madeleine Albright is appointed first female U.S. secretary of state
Television industry executives agree to adopt a ratings system


Vlad - Carlos Fuentes, Ethan Shaskan Bumas Dracula will never be the same for me. I've been reading Fuentes since the late 80s, and I'm so sorry that there won't be any more to look forward to. But on the other hand, what an incredible body of work. This is not an afterthought book, or a gimme for the publisher. This is the real deal, and I enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed his previous novels.

The True Deceiver

The True Deceiver - Tove Jansson, Thomas Teal, Ali Smith Review to come (I need to think about it a bit)

There but for the

There but for the - Ali Smith Wow. I just want to hug this book. That incredibly rare thing, in the 2010s, a totally contemporary novel that isn't cynical or bitter or cute. Clever, yes. Very.

What's it about? I'm not sure I can articulate an answer. It might be about martyrdom. Or it might be about losing one's humanity, and trying to get it back. Or it might be about boredom and frustration and loss. It might be about horrible dinner parties filled with dreary backward privelged snobs. Or it might be about compassion, fellow-feeling, paper airplanes, music and love. Whatever it's about, it's about us.

Angelica's Grotto

Angelica's Grotto - Russell Hoban This is a sort of coming-of-age novel, except that the protagonist is in his seventies. So maybe it's a going-of-age novel. Throughout his life, Harold's inner voice, his thinking voice, has occured in words. One day, he loses his inner voice, or rather, it becomes an outer voice. He can't think without words, and he can't do it silently. When this first happens, he finds himself in the emergency room a couple of times after accidentaly insulting people. As the novel goes on, with the help of a therapist and an internet porn site, he explores his identity, his sense of self, his hopes and dreams.

I wonder why there aren't more novels on the subject of existential crises featuring older characters. There is quite a bit of expicit sex stuff, but none of it is actually erotic, in fact the the sex stuff is almost bureaucratic (and it's in all caps, which is terribly annoying).

I think I had put the sequel to this, Angelica Lost and Found, on my to-read list after reading a review in the TLS, and if I remember correctly, the review suggested that one could skip Angelica's Grotto and go straight to the more interesting sequel. But the library didn't have the sequel, and they had this one, so I figured I might as well, since it had an interesting premise. Probably not for everyone.

Swimming Lessons and Other Stories from Firozsha Baag

Swimming Lessons and Other Stories from Firozsha Baag - Rohinton Mistry A collection of interconnected stories about the tenants of an apartment block. The first story features a couple who have some maintenance issues in their apartment that result in physical discomfort and logistical inconvenience, and then the story winds out into a public humiliation, a frustrated attempt to celebrate a religious occasion, and a murder. Most of the events are never returned to in the remainder of the book, and although I thought this was the weakest story in the collection, it may also have been the most thought provoking. The remaining stories are faster and (at least for me) more engaging.

I was previously unfamiliar with the Parsi community, and some of the vocabulary was a stumbling block for me (I would have been grateful for a glossary). As I was looking up info on the internet, I stumbled upon the fact that Freddie Mercury was Parsi, and grew up partly in the neighborhood of Firozsha Baag (but a little earlier than the time frame). Completely irrelevant to the book, but there you go....

Overall, I really enjoyed it and will be reading at least one of his novels in the future.

Doctor Thorne

Doctor Thorne - Anthony Trollope Doctor Thorne kept me company during a hurricane. I don't really understand how anyone could possibly not love Anthony Trollope. This 624 page novel went incredibly fast. Trollope is more courteous, more solicitous, gentler and kinder to his readers than any other author I know. I almost thought he might even pour my tea. The story, that of a romance complicated by societal predjudice, has been told by many authors, in many times and places. But the way he tells the tale is just incomparable.

Currently reading

The Best American Short Stories 2015
Victor Lodato, T.C. Boyle, Heidi Pitlor
What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World
Robert Hass