2011 Books 11-25

As previously discussed, I am not a consistent blogger. I’m dealing with it.

I in fact did not stop reading after finishing Cavafy (while I could have, he’s so good). I have now read 25 books this year, which is halfway to my (revised) goal of reading “at least 50.” Having done this about 15 days before the temporal midpoint, I’m feeling optimistic. The list:

12: Molly Gaudry‘s We Take Me Apart: It’s gorgeous but I’m not sure I ‘got it.’ The imagery is bold, bright, and I loved how the line breaks were naturally determined by the language’s pauses (or whenever a comma or ‘and’ would naturally be placed). It’s one of my favorite novels-in-verse and I’m definitely going to reread it at some point, to figure out what exactly happened.

13: Ariel Dorfman’s In Case of Fire in a Foreign Land: Poems from Chile concerning the dictatorship and ‘disappearances’ of his detractors. Extremely powerful poems, though more for their content than their poetic competence.

14: Michelle Cheever‘s You’ll Miss Me But That’s Good: This collection of short stories was released by the student-run Wilde Press at Emerson. I reviewed it here. Cheever is stunning and I’m sure she’ll make a name for herself in the years to come. You can read two of her stories here and here.

15: CAConrad’s The Book of Frank: This book-length series of poems is, well, odd. Lots of avian imagery, lots of unexpected twists. I’m still not sure what I think about it.

16: Miranda July‘s No One Belongs Here More Than You: I read this to prep for an interview that kind of fell through. Met her, though, and she’s so wonderful and soft-spoken. I don’t think I fully understand the things she tackles in her films, performances, or even these stories, but I find something in her character’s subdued decay fascinating and oddly humorous. She’s like a light version of Tao Lin. Maybe.

17: Julia Leigh’s Disquiet: This was a beautiful little novella (which Penguin labeled a ‘story’ because, I suspect, people are afraid of the word ‘novella’). The writing was pristine but all I thought while reading it was, “Wow, I guess rich people have problems, too.”

18: Blake Butler‘s There Is No Year: The book is physically gigantic. The sentences are pretty. The design was pretty. I have no idea what happened.

19: Jac Jemc‘s These Strangers She’d Invited In: I love the Greying Ghost chapbooks. I only own four of them, but they’re all gorgeous and, as expected, the writing more than keeps up. There’s something so charming about being introduced to a list of characters and that’s that. Jemc is one of my favorite up-and-comings and I can’t wait for her novel.

20: Brian Malloy’s Brendan Wolf: I will be gentle in saying this book was not my cup of tea. When I finished it I contemplating getting a Good Reads account just to vent.

21: James Kaelan’s We’re Getting On: I remember liking this but I can’t remember why. And I’m too lazy to go find it and refresh my memory. I think I wanted to post about this separately later anyway.

22: Sara Levine’s Short Dark Oracles: Buy this before they’re gone. These stories were wonderful and just-quirky-enough.

23: Rose Metal Press’s They Could No Longer Contain Themselves: I plan to post on this later, but I’ll suffice to say I loved three of the five chapbooks, was ok with one, and despised the fifth. The book itself is beautiful and a great idea; I hope to be included in such an anthology one day!

24: Daniel Wallace’s Big Fish: I never say this, but I liked the movie better. It just had a sense of magic, of true story-ness, that I don’t think the novel had. I wish I could explain why.

25: Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping: Literally finished this right before making this list. The first paragraphs were too slow and then the ending seemed rushed. But I’m not complaining because each and every sentence was painfully beautiful: some of the best sentences I’ve read since her Gilead. I think I’ll try to read everything she’s written.


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