Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
So, about a year or so ago, I mentioned that I wasn't enjoying reading anymore. Books weren't grabbing me, and I found myself getting very easily distracted. Then (also mentioned in this LJ), I read Susanna Kaysen's Girl, Interrupted, and was reheartened. While I was reading the book, my friend, Emily, saw it, mentioned that she sometimes worked in the facility where the book takes place, and would like to read it. Thus began our weekly book exchange. I've been reading muchly since then, and thought I'd pass along a bunch of the titles I've read. What I've enjoyed, and what I haven't. If anyone has any suggestions for other books to read, let me know, I'm totally binging now.
Chris Adrian's Children's Hospital
It had a bunch of typos, and a few dead boring parts, but the beginning was fantastic, and the pages were the plot actually advanced were fantastic. It's incredibly long, but overall worth the read, if just to watch it flip genres a few times. You really don't have any idea where the book is going for the first few hundred pages, and I mean that in a good way. And the end doesn't suck.
Margaret Atwood's Blind Assassin
I couldn't get into it at all. I was intrigued by the structure, and the whole novel inside a novel idea, but the punctuation was atrocious. I never knew when a character was or wasn't talking, because bitch didn't use quotation marks. I also had the feeling I got when I read Tim O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods which was, for all the cool style points, nothing interesting would be resolved over the course of the novel. I might have been wrong, but I couldn't get past the first hundred pages.
Augusten Borrough's Dry
I originally read this when I was living with the crazy Asian-obsessed pedophile freakshow in Slummerville. I liked it then, I like it more now. It's much more readable than Running With Scissors, which I thought was okay, but overrated. Dry is hilarious, brutal, and seems much more honest than his previous books.
Johnny Cash's autobiography
Since I'm working on a novel about a fictional rock star, I thought I'd check out a bunch of autobiographies by rock stars. I didn't want to shell out thirty nine bucks for the U2 monstrosity, so I picked up Johnny's, and I'm glad I did. The writing was plain, but interesting, and I learned a bunch of things that made me want to go out and download (legally, natch) some of his older recordings.
Joe Connely's Bringing Out The Dead
Any book that they adapt for film, and toss Nicholas Cage in, makes me nervous. But it was paced well, and kept me interested. It was also a quick read, which I appreciated.
Stephen Dobyn's The Wrestler's Cruel Study
I originally bought this about a decade ago, because I thought the cover art was interesting. Having now met, and talked a bit with Stephen Dobyns, I like it even more. Professional wrestling being choreographed interpretations of biblical lore? Fucken sweet.
Chris Durang Explains It All For You
For years I've confused Christopher Durang and David Ives. Their plays aren't similar, but I was rehearsing some scenes from Ives's All In The Timing, while I was performing Durang's "Sister Mary Ignatious Explains It All For You" and "Beyond Therapy". This collection is obscene and brilliant. If you can deal with reading scripts, I highly recommend this collection.
Carrie Fisher's Surrender The Pink
Carrie Fisher's The Best Awful
Literary snobs have given me a lot of flack for enjoying Fisher's Postcards From The Edge. I mean, Princess Leia isn't Dostoevsky. But she is witty, and knows how to keep stories quick and interesting. She'd be a guilty pleasure, but I don't feel a lick of guilt about reading her.
Janet Fitch's White Oleander
Celeste left a copy of this book behind when she moved. Oh. So. Good. Carrying a cool metaphor for an entire novel without making it seem forced or pretentious is tough, but she pulled it off. I love the way she uses language, and blends style with accessibility.
Neil Gaiman's American Gods
Neil Gaiman's Smoke & Mirrors
People have preconceived notions about novels written by someone mostly known as a graphic novelist. Fuck em. Neither of these books are life changing or awe-inspiring, but as Emily said "They're great road trip books."
Nikki Giovanni's Acolytes
I really wish I'd read scottwoods's review of this book. Niki Giovanni was one of the first people who inspired me to get into spoken word. Workshopping with her almost a decade ago changed the way I write. And, yea, I know she is responsible for a generation of lazy, untalented hacks who think that centering a poem and putting a bunch of "yea"s in is a good idea, but I forgave her. I can not forgive her for making me read Acolytes. It is unforgivable. I think her publisher and editor need to release a joint-book apology to the world for letting Nikki release this book to an unsuspecting world. It's the only book I've ever returned to the bookstore due to its suckitude. It's the worse thing I've ever read, and I own a book by Harris Gardner!
John Irving's Widow For One Year
Did John Irving fuck his mom? Cause every book I've ever read by him has an incest angle. Still, I liked this book, though I did start wanting it to end about fifty pages before it did. He has a chapter about the street one of the side characters lives on, and it's in the last hundred or so pages, and it does nothing to advance the plot. But it ended well.
David Ive's All In The Timing
Another insanely brilliant collection of scripts. "Philip Glass Orders A Loaf Of Bread", "Variations on the Death of Trotsky", "The Philadelphia", and "Foreplay" are my favorite one act plays in the world. Love them all. Bunches.
David Ive's Mere Mortals is not All in the Timing. It's very much meh.
Stephen King's Nightmares & Dreamscapes
You know, Stephen Kingy. Good stories, a few great stories, but nothing life changing. It's not up to par with the first three Dark Tower books, but it's not as disappointing as the latter Dark Tower books. It's also a collection of short stories, and not a Dark Tower book, so there you are.
Mark Leyner's My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist
I like that I live in a world where Mark Leyner has literary cred. His proze is baffling and occasionally brilliant. It does make me want to drink, though.
Neil McCormick's Killing Bono
Another book I read as research. It's not awful. It should be mentioned that all the jacket reviews are from rock stars, though, not book reviewers. Apparently, Elton John and I have different opinions about the word "brilliant".
The Outlaw Bible Of American Poetry is bloated, and entirely too NYCcentric. But it's got Lisa Martinovic and Jeffrey Macdaniels in it, so I'll forgive it.
A whole fuckload of Edgar Allan Poe made me want to download all the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes. I almost wish I hadn't had to read all of his stuff in high school, as I might appreciate it more now.
David Sedaris's Dress Your Family in Corduroy & Denim
Simon Winchester's The Professor & The Madman.
Casey, the guy who expressed interest while I was obsessed with Ben, lent me this book. Then he was either killed in a freak frogging accident, or he read my LJ, and didn't like it. I haven't heard from him since. And he didn't respond to my couple of e-mails offering to return the book to him. It's a fantastic book. It's non-fiction about one of the main contributors to The Oxford English Dictionary, which sounds painfully boring, but it's written like it's fiction. Excellent style, and it really moves along well.