Last Ten Books Read (xxi)

(In order of completion)
1. William Maxwell. Time Will Darken It. The first of three novels by Maxwell in a single volume I found in a Free Little Library. (I had already read the third and am now reading the second.) This one is a portrait of a family’s life in a small mid-western town in pre-World War I America. Steady, re-assuring old-fashioned fiction.

2. Jarislav Hasek. The Good Soldier Schwek. Recommended by a young man in the café. Schwek may have inspired Catch-22, but I am about the only one I know not to have been crazy about Catch-22, and I didn’t care for this either.

3. Claire Keegan. Small Things Like This. Another fine miniature by Keegan. Immaculate style and strong story.

4. R. Crumb. The Book of Mr. Natural. If you were a Mr. Natural fan, this compilation of his strips and stories may knock you out, but I wasn’t, and it didn’t.

5. Benjamin Labatut. When We Cease to Understand the World. I had read this two years ago and realized I had forgotten everything about it, so I decided to re-read it, and, boy, was it terrific. I am sure it will stick with me now.

6. Sarah Bakewell. How to Live. A biography of Montaigne. A philosopher/neighbor recommended it as superior to Bakewell’s At the Existentialist Café. I disagree.

7. Italo Calvino. If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler… Not for me. Way over my head. Maybe in the future, but I doubt I’ll try again.

8. Iris Murdoch. Jackson’s Dilemma. I am a big fan of Murdoch, and Bakewell touted this, her final novel, but it seems primarily of interest because Murdoch wrote it while in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and the effects are observable.

9. Ivana Armanini. Love, Resist, Etc. A collection of strips by a cartoonist to whom language is mainly a page marker and visuals are paramount. It gives your eyes a trip and your mind a workout.

10. Amor Towles. A Gentleman in Moscow. Two friends had raved about this so imagine my excitement to find it in a “Free” box. Now I will be even more excited to pit it back in one.