Exhibit 1.6.5

The Actual Book I’m Reading Next

So I read around in this when I got it, but I had to put it away until after my exams. Now I’m reading it for real, and I’m excited. You should read it too because you like excitement and good things and good people.

Pick it up.

Comment / Posted in Fiction, Reading, Tyrones

Exhibit 7.20

The History of Love

I read Nicole Krauss’s book as part of my company’s book club, and while I get the feeling that some of the others didn’t enjoy it, I thought it was pretty great and the ideal book for a club of diverse readers like ours. It’s a quick, easy read that features a fair amount of pleasure in its language, plot, and message. Plus this book was everywhere a year or two ago, and reading it places you in conversation with millions of other book club readers across the country. Isn’t that what these things are all about?

Anyway, it’s one of those books that propels itself forward by hiding from the reader. If only the characters all wrote each other letters or Googled each other or had MySpace pages, none of this would really be necessary. But they don’t, and therefore the 24o pages of the book are mostly concerned with unravelling mysteries of distance.

Two main characters narrate the book. One, a Holocaust survivor originally from Poland, lives out his last few years with his friend Bruno in New York City while wondering how to meet the son who doesn’t know he exists. The other, a 14/15-year-old girl, deals with the death of her father by involving herself in the translation project of her mother. What ties these and a few other narrative threads together is a book called The History of Love which passes through each of these characters’ hands.

Various obstacles prevent any one character–or reader–from connecting the dots between them until, of course, the end. Mostly the obstacles are sad reminders of the fragmentation of diaspora but a few seem less than genuine, coincidences and choices made not by rational characters but by an author needing to buy more time. Still, it’s a really well constructed book full of stunning moments where the characters are capable of creating genuine heartbreak.

I probably wouldn’t have read it without the book club, but if I wanted to go eat Mexican food with them, I sort of had to. And I’m glad I did. Isn’t that what these things are all about?

Last thought: It’s remarkably unimportant to mention that Krauss’s husband is Jonathan Safran Foer, but I find it fascinating, and a little endearing, that this book shares so much with his two novels. Not just the plot elements–the Holocaust, a quirky old Man, children hunting for someone/thing around New York City–but how the books read and feel. If someone says, I want to read something like Everything is Illuminated, the obvious answer is The History of Love. And it has nothing to do with them being married. Or everything. Who knows.

Comment / Posted in Clubs, Fiction, Reading

Exhibit 6.22

I realize I’m throwing off my not at all thought out numbering system here, but I wanted to add to the above thoughts that Rhian Ellis and J. Robert Lennon both read and gave some thoughts about the book over at Ward Six. You can find hers here and his here.

I discovered their blog through Dusty and was surprised to find out they had both read the book (which I had just started). I’ve purposefully avoided reading what they had to say about it but am on my way there now. We can even race.


Comment / Posted in Others, Reading, Systems

Exhibit 4.26

Sampling of words from today’s newspaper reading:

plum (as an adjective)

Those are in no order of quality. I’d use any of those words to make sentences or name kittens with.

Comment / Posted in Pet Names, Plum, Reading

Exhibit 4.22

Post-Gre Lit Reading List.

So, I’d more or less been reading for the Literature Subject Exam for about a year. I knew it wouldn’t really help me on the test–of all the classic literature I read only one question about the Iliad and one about Wuthering Heights came up–but I wanted to fill in some holes in my education anyway. I learned I like Dickens. Not so much Melville (at some point I’m going to have to explore why this is before I start crying the next time someone says Moby Dick changed their life. I used to feel this way when my parents said they loved cantaloupe). Also, I discovered the The Good Soldier which squared the GRE and I.

I’m now going back to contemporary fiction. I figure I’ll start with some of the recent big hits and then work my way into some more obscure things. If anyone has any thoughts on these or suggestions for other books, please let me know:

Haruki Murakami, After Dark (and the stories I haven’t read in Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman)
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics
Michael Chabon, Yiddish Policeman’s Union
Steven Hall, The Raw Shark Texts
David Mitchell, Black Swan Green
Gary Shteyngart, Absurdistan

Of course, before that I have to finish The Tin Drum which I’ve been reading on and off for approximately as long as it took to write it. And yesterday I bought Ben Marcus’s Age of Wire and String, this in addition to quite a few other books I purchased during my hiatus. I can barely keep myself from smirking at all the Henry James on my bookshelf.

3 Comments / Posted in Reading, Shteyngarts, Time