"A thirteen-year-old is a kaleidoscope of different personalities, if not in most ways a mere figment of her own imagination. At that age, what and who you are depends largely on what book you happen to be reading at the moment.”
While not 13 anymore, the desire to read almost anything and everything in order to read for fun and for experience is still around. I'm currently working on my PhD in a physical science, but I love to read and books are one of my non-science hobbies.
NYRB book club selection for April and the newest London Review of Books (or newest for what we can get in the States). Excellent mail today!
I sent in my NYRB Book Club renewal today! Here's hoping for another 12 months of excellent literature a few weeks before publication date!
The Shining Girls sounds at first like a bad mash up of Doctor Who and CSI, and while there was great potential for camp, the brutal violence and suspense avoids that pitfall.
Kirby has survived a brutal attack (and animal lovers might want to just skim the chapter that describes her actual attempted murder) and she is trying to find the man who murdered her.
Meanwhile, Harper, the murderer, stumbles across a house in Chicago that doubles as a time machine and motive for murder. He brings tokens from another murder to leave at the site of each killing, his time traveling concealing his actions. He is without a doubt a sick killer, which was overall decently done. I'm not big on reading about criminals themselves, especially murderers, which is where this book finally lost me.
However, the clever plot, the lack of fetishization of murder (and even a direct addressing of it at one point), as well as the interesting secondary characters and undercurrents of "the shining girls" moving outside the normal confines of society make it a strong combination of literary and genre fiction.
I am swamped with good books to read next now that I've finished four books in the last week. I'm way behind on Proust, I know, but there are so many nice books just waiting to be picked up.
I'm especially excited for I am Malala. I followed her story extensively last fall and am very much looking forward to reading what she has to say, especially after her Daily Show interview. It's also a signed edition so I'm excited about it as a book collector as well.
The last two weeks I've been working on a somewhat dysfunctional 2 dimensional linear hydrodynamics code that made me want to puke every time I went close to it. Also, not much time for reading when every waking moment is tracking down bugs or trying to keep up with other classes when trying to conquer this beast.
I finished the code Tuesday night.
While it was running, I read half of A Moveable Feast by Hemingway, which really absurdly macho and arty, but it was about some guy with artistic and money problems who wasn't in grad school so I ate it up.
Then, to celebrate being done with the code, last night I just read. I finished The Black Spider essentially in one sitting, and am still trying to digest the arachnid imagery (I do not like any type of arthropods, especially ones on or around my face) and the religious allegory.
Then, because I was on a roll, I read some of Maggie Nelson's The Art of Cruelty because I've been trying to read that book for the last two weeks and have not made much progress (see above issues with my grad life interfering with my reading life).
Fortunately, I'm back and the non-linear hydro code is not due until December, so I have some time to start reading again! I've got some good ones in the queue as well so I am super excited for this weekend, when I will binge read and hopefully catch up on my Proust 2013 read along (I'm only 4 weeks behind?).
I'd been highly recommended Mortal Leap for about a year and a half before I finally requested it through inter-library loan (my reading time may be infringed upon by my grad student life but I wouldn't give up the library privileges for the world, except maybe graduating eventually). It showed up right as the semester went nuts. Of course, not as nuts as the plot and premise of this novel.
Our narrator starts out as a young man in Utah, from a devout Mormon family, who will rather get caught reading a girly mag instead of the Joseph Conrad novels he loves. He has issues for sure, and before too long our narrator is on his way to reinvention, first on a ship and then having his face and hands so badly burned he cannot be identified. His purest form of reinvention is literally erasing his previous identity.
Mortal Leap was originally published in 1964 and it's difficult to get a copy outside of libraries. The story itself is strange and captivating, and I can't seem to figure out why the book went out of print. The nameless narrator deals with what happens when one does not feel strongly attached to a particular place or way of life, and what happens when people start to drift. There are some weaknesses in the middle of the novel while there is a sense of safety where the narrator is passing himself off as a man with a wife and history outside of his own sad life, but these are remedied by the end of the novel in a very neat way. The wife that our narrator comes out of the woodwork to claim is not just some object, as the narrator first sees him, and I loved how she was given a larger role by the finale.
There is some lower than navel-gazing, over-thinking about life, and some great commentary on readers and literature, in addition to the crazy plot. It's multilayered enough that no matter how annoying or rude the narrator becomes, there is still a reason to stick it out until the end.
A man with a poor, unimportant background sees chances to reinvent himself, finally literally as a different person, with a different identity and different family.
(Those of you Mad Men nerds out there know what I'm talking about. The rest of you, don't Google just go watch the show. You'll see the connection and it's even more unbelievable that Mortal Leap has not been reprinted. NYRB could make a mint.)
I think the formatting of my Goodreads reviews are not coming through particularly well in the import. Please have patience while I import and fix reviews!
Let's just say I am part of the problem because I wanted an alternative to Goodreads. I figure it's safe to have a back up, right? I also like the review layout here better, and I'm not here to bully authors like some comments have said about us Goodreaders looking for greener pastures. Expect diverse, hopefully insightful, and interesting reviews from me!
Original post below
Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.
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