Last 10 Books Read (XII)
(in order of completion)
1. Shirley Hazzard. “Transit of Venus.” Boy, does she know how to work a sentence. She may spend more time on them than I do paragraphs and I spend a lot time on paragraphs. But “Venus” had about the cruelest ending I can recall since I was a little kid and someone’s pet died.
2. Wendy Bartlett. “Girl With a Violin.” Enjoyed two-thirds, but the ending didn’t work for me. Wendy, a café pal and I have discussed it and decided I am not attuned with the zeitgeist.
3. Emmanuel Carrere. “Limonov.” Most of the way I was thinking I had never met such an unpleasant guy. But then you got a pretty good look at Putin – before he began this current madness. (I wonder where Limonov stands on it.)
4 and 8. Sigrid Nunez. “Mitz” and “What Are You Going Through” My second and third Nunezes in recent months – and I’m into a fourth. “Mitz” was delightful and WAYGT, while not up to “Friend,” to which it is similar – even an improvisation on – is a fine work.
5, 7 and 10. Janet Lewis. “The Ghost of Monsieur Scarone,” “The Wife of Martin Guere,” and “The Trial of Soren Qvist.” I rarely read historical fiction, but, once I’d read one and learned the back-story, I was hooked. It seems Lewis’s husband, Yvor Winter, hoped to cure her writer’s block through a collection of case studies, published in 1873, of murderers convicted on circumstantial evidence in the 16th and 17th centuries.. (At about that time, a colleague of theirs in the Stanford English Department was being of convicted on circumstantial evidence of killing his wife). It worked and she got these novels – compelling but grim, grim, grim.
6. Iris Murdoch. “The Sea, The Sea.” I like Murdoch and I’d been looking for this a long time, except I thought its title was “The Sun, The Sun.” Anyway, it was a fine, old-fashioned (1978) novel. Won the Booker Prize, though I liked a couple others by her more.
9. Renata Adler. “Reckless Disregard.” (Second time.) Adler is among my favorite writers. I’d been thinking of writing about her but her work seemed daunting. This was short and I thought it might have been a way in, but I didn’t find one. In fact, I thought it lacked clarity.
Semi-Honorable Mention: (1) Read most of Dave Hickey’s “Invisible Drug,” a collection of art criticism I thought might be useful to me, but I started skipping paragraph, then pages and didn’t retain an idea or word of it. (2) and (3) John Hawkes’s “Death Stops the Traveler” and Iain Sinclair’s Downriver.” I couldn’t understand either guy and quit both books early. (4) Dan Rottenberg’s “Education of a Journalist.” I could understand this but found, while it might be of interest to someone who wanted to become a journalist, I didn’t and it wasn’t.
Last 10 Books Read (XII)