Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Reading List

I've been reading more lately, not just for class. I mean, I read more books for class, but I also have a stack of stuff I want to read independent of school, so I have to push through the one to get to the other. I'm trying to rein in my whimsy, additionally, but sometimes I get too curious about an author and need to read something they've written: P.G. Wodehouse's Right Ho, Jeeves is the most recent example of this. I'm trying to sneak chapters of it in between the other books.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - This was very moving and I think I've covered that already. I keep bringing it up because I was so impressed by it, not just by its skill but by how the reality of it contradicted my expectations, to my delight. I really, really enjoyed this and it changed my perception of how a memoir would strike me.

Angela's Ashes - Again, I had a preconceived notion of what this book was going to be. I discovered that at no point did the mother die and get cremated, this was not a book about ordering her sons to spread her ashes over whatever national monument or state park, and the journey of exploration as her formerly estranged family reunites for this common cause. Nope, this was an eminently entertaining story about growing up impoverished in Ireland just before WWII. It's plenty tragic, but the author doesn't revel in depression, doesn't beg the reader to please feel sorry for him. He just rolls with everything as a kid does. More than once, though, I wanted to fly back in time and give those kids some damned boots, a week's groceries, some soap.

The Namesake - This was an interesting story, though not a memoir as above. It was fairly epic, in the style of Agatha Christie's work under the pen name Mary Westmacott, starting with someone's birth and following them throughout their life. I appreciated it for the cultural insight, but ultimately I didn't see the point of it. This guy had a few girlfriends and never liked his name and got burned in marriage. The end! Also, there is curry.

The Safety of Objects - I'm in the middle of this one. It's written by a woman with a sharp (as in pointy, puncturing) sense of humor who thinks very little of men and dislikes suburbia as she perceives it. Her main characters... imagine someone living a completely normal life up until a certain point, any point in a given lifetime. Imagine at that point they suddenly become retarded. They could not have gotten to where they are if they were so mentally disabled all throughout their lives, it's not possible. They have one bad day where their mind completely breaks down. Those are the main characters, people suddenly acting within a vacuum, abruptly bereft of any common sense at all. The author has been accused of imparting deep, painful truths in these short stories, but the only truth is that she believes she is vastly superior to everyone, especially men. These stories are just painful, they're not comical at all. They're meant for people with lousy attitudes who deny themselves a full spectrum perspective. I mean, it's well written and all, just... it makes me want to put it down and be ill for a little while.

I'm also plowing through a lot of graphic novels, as well as the Wodehouse, which is quite charming. Good humor with a superior vocabulary and the most endearing turns of phrase. I hope to explore the rest of his stuff. Oh, I forgot, I was also reading G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, but I set that down and forgot about it. I should get back into it, I remember liking it very much, though I absolutely cannot recall how it ever came into my possession.

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