What We’re Reading This Week - Jenn
Before going into a book store and suggesting to yourself, "I’ll just take a look around. Maybe I’ll buy one book…"
What We’re Reading This Week - Jenn
Ever since, oh, let’s say July, I’ve been trying really hard to read through all my Fall galleys in order of publication. And mostly I’ve been pretty faithful to the plan! But then Nina MacLaughlin’s (carpentrix to you, Tumblr) galley for HAMMER HEAD (out March 1 2015 I KNOW I AM SORRY OK) landed on my desk and all bets were off, as I’ve been eagerly awaiting this ever since I learned a book from her was a possibility. And it is great! MacLaughlin talks thoughtfully about having a life of the mind, having a life of the body, and the overlap (or lack theoref) between. She also writes the hell out of carpentry; you wouldn’t think that tiling a floor would make for that great a chapter. I will be rereading some of these passages just for the rhythms of them.
And then because she thanks Philip Connors in the acknowledgements (you guys, always read the acknowledgements, they can be so interesting) I remembered that I had a galley of ALL THE WRONG PLACES (February 1 2015, sorry again) (all praise to wwnorton) so I started that, and read it within a day. The topic — Connors’ brother committed suicide when they were in their 20s, and this is a memoir about the ways in which he struggled with his brother’s absence — is feeling very relevant, as there have been several suicides in my community as well as in the media in the past year. ALL THE WRONG PLACES is about depression, family, self-absorption, and healing, and Connors is a painstakingly honest narrator as well as a wordsmith. He also brought the humor — his portrayal of himself as a young socialist, copy-editing for the Wall Street Journal offers a welcome touch levity.
Ok but so then I decided I needed to read FIRE SEASON, which is Connors’ previous memoir about being a lookout in a fire-spotting station in New Mexico (which is where ALL THE WRONG PLACES ends, it’s a prequel as it were), which is out right now, it can be yours! And I recommend it if you like nature writing — Connors uses his powers of observation well, chronicling the scenery and his (few and far between) companions as well as what it’s like to be truly alone for days, weeks at a time. He intersperses it with the history of the Gila Wilderness itself, and now I probably need to go read SAND COUNTY ALMANAC.
When a famous author likes or reblogs one of your posts.
What We’re Reading This Week — Jenn
Brian Francis Slattery is another of those authors I’ve read everything they’ve ever written (if you are new to him, start with Liberation, it will knock your socks off — dystopian heist centereda round economic injustice!) and this past weekend I had the pleasure of finishing his newest, The Family Hightower, which comes out on September 9 from sevenstoriespress. While it is also deeply concerned with economic issues, it’s a modern saga at a mafia-connected family (the eponymous Hightowers), plus a case of mistaken identity. It rambles all over the world, but its heart is split between Cleveland and Ukraine, and the timing of publication really strikes me. While it doesn’t address them directly (plus, it’s a novel, not meant to be a primer on international relations and economics), it certainly gives you a sideways look at the context of the current unrest in Ukraine, and the continued struggles of the American economy. If you are a Godfather fan, you should pick it up. If you’re a Slattery fan, you should pick it up. And if you are a Middlesex fan, you should pick it up.
I’m also rereading The Giver by Lois Lowry, because I probably will see the movie at some point and also it’s been 20 years since I first read it. I can’t believe how much of it I’d forgotten! Am I the only one that only just discovered the Citizen Kane reference??
There’s something wrong with the teens in this town! And everyone’s worried about the girls and the puberty and oh my god… Megan Abbott has this way of taking our collective high school yearbook and jury-rigging it into a bear trap.
- Paul on THE FEVER by Megan Abbott [Episode 72]