July through December 2017
Title: Four Seasons in Rome
Author: Anthony Doerr
Date Finished: 7/23
Format: Hard cover
Ranking Out of 10: 9
Notes: Ah, so beautiful. Every sentence of this book was lovely. It’s a memoir of the author’s year in Rome while writing a novel, just after his wife gave birth to twins. I am not at all interested in children or parenting, yet even though the children are featured prominently in this story, I loved it and felt I could relate. That’s how well it was written. I was immersed in he and his wife’s experiences as foreigners trying to make Italy their home. And Doerr’s use of words made me pause many, many times to consider my own feelings or form elaborate mental images of what he was seeing.
Title: Hillbilly Elegy
Author: JD Vance
Date Finished: 7/25
Ranking Out of 10: 8
Notes: This was worth the wait in the library queue. This book is a unique look at the experiences of someone growing up poor in America, someone who should have been a failure and made nothing of himself. What makes it unique are the takeaways, what the author attributes to his ultimate success in life. So many decisions, big and small, combined with circumstance. His honest yet non-judgmental look at everyone around him is refreshing and valuable too. It’s a good sociological exploration of Appalachia written in a relatable and ingestible way.
Continue reading →
I agree to live now, live as sweetly as I can, to fill my clothes with wind and my eyes with lights, but I understand I’ll have to leave in the end.
There’s quite a gap between the last date in the January – June report, but I was reading! I just had about 8 books going at once. And some short stories. And The Paris Review. Anyways, here’s the last six months worth of notes.
Title: Drop City
Author: T. C. Boyle
Date Finished: 7/16
Ranking Out of 10: 6
Notes: I read this because I was reading a few books that took place in Alaska in anticipation of my trip to Alaska. And I had never heard of T. C. Boyle until I read something of his in a workshop at Lighthouse Writers Workshop just last month, so this seemed like a good choice. It was enjoyable – clearly I enjoyed it because I finished it – but I’m kind of wondering what the big deal is. Why did it win some award? This book was different in that it had a plot, but it didn’t. It’s really somewhere in between genre and literary fiction. I was wondering almost to the end where the story was going and what the point was, but it did come to a satisfactory conclusion. I was more interested in the story of the couple in Alaska than in the story of the hippies at the commune, and I was a bit disappointed that the story of the couple kind of petered out throughout the book. About the writing – if you read my blog, you know that I participate in David Abram’s Sunday Sentence. But I didn’t select anything from this book for that. Not that I didn’t enjoy the writing – to the contrary, there were a lot of amazing phrases. But that’s the problem, they were phrases in longer sentences. Lots of really cool phrases but he writes long, long sentences that bury the cool stuff in average phrases. And if you know anything about me, you know I’m a stickler for rules and order, so I just can’t post a phrase as my Sunday sentence. I just can’t do it.
Author: Mary Karr
Date Finished: 7/26
Ranking Out of 10: 6
Notes: I can’t believe one person can have three memoirs. Clearly there must be something worth reading there, but maybe I picked the wrong one to start with. Well, that’s not entirely fair. I was very much into this book for the first half. And then I just completely lost interest. It’s hard to pinpoint why. Maybe it was just too much religious stuff, but I think my interest started to wan before she really got into her struggles with coming to terms with accepting God. I don’t know. I enjoyed it for awhile, but I don’t feel any need to pick up one of her other memoirs. Continue reading →
Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl.
OK, it’s only a Sunday sentence, but this one really deserves the whole paragraph. It’s phenomenal.
We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic electrical swarm. The lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us.