Tag Archives: reading

Sunday Update: November 9, 2014

I’m loving Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides’ Pulitzer Prize winning novel. I assumed I’d enjoy it, as I absolutely loved The Virgin Suicides. Middlesex is different, in that it’s a multi-generational tome. But, it’s lovely and somehow classic and modern at once. The well-educated, self-aware narrator comments on the postmodernist method of narration, but really, it’s done so well that the complexities and oddness of it may very well not at all distract the casual reader.

I find myself still in the middle of Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby, Susan Sontag’s Styles of Radical Will, and Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. More than halfway through The Faraway Nearby, I think I had simply misplaced it. Styles of Radical Will, however, turned out to be far more scholarly, or less-fun, say, than I’d imagined it would be. I picked up both the Solnit and Sontag books based on seeing the writers referenced in other works, primarily essays by women: specifically, I think, Lelsie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams (which everyone needs to read, by the way). It’s hard to keep track! Animal, Vegetable, Mineral is a Little Free Library score; we have several of them in my neighborhood. I love my neighborhood.

Friday, I presented a paper titled “Amateurs” that outlines the parallels between the disciplines of writing and boxing. It’s primarily a synthesis of scholarship but also includes my own primary research, a splash of memoir. I was on a panel representing The Georgia Carolinas College English Association (GCCEA) at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association conference (SAMLA). SAMLA is always a little bit weird to me, me who feels more comfortable at the smaller state or regional conferences where I know more people. It’s as if, at SAMLA, every person I make eye contact with and would perhaps then introduce myself to then begins speaking in French. Not speaking French nor harboring a fanatical passion for any highly specialized area of research makes me feel inadequate. But only for a moment. I digress.

I’m still working on a group of essays: shopping some around, finishing some up, ignoring long lists of remaining research questions. I’m being tormented by a post-apocalyptic dystopian novel I outlined two summers ago, wondering if it is meant to be a novella, a long short story, or nothing. After receiving a complimentary rejection from Algonquin, which encouraged me to keep sending the manuscript out to other editors, I’m shopping Ash around to more small presses.

Finally, I just realized my first line sounds like a McDonald’s commercial, but I’m not going to edit it. Instead, I’ll let us soak in the colloquial rhythm and decide how depressed to be about that insidious unrealized representation of capitalist America that crept into my prose.

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The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

A Little Blog of Books

The LowlandJhumpa Lahiri was one of my favourite new discoveries in 2013 so I have really been looking forward to reading her latest novel, ‘The Lowland’ which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year and has recently been longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. It tells the story of two brothers, Subhash and Udayan, who grow up in Calcutta in the 1950s and 1960s. While Udayan’s involvement in an underground Communist movement ultimately results in his death, Subhash starts a new life in the United States, later marrying his widowed and pregnant sister-in-law, Gauri, and taking her with him back to New England.

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Readers’ Corner: Philip Seymour Hoffman

Chris Barsanti

One more note on the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman. Back in 2004, he was interviewed by The Believer and the talk sprawled over beyond life and acting into things literary.

yates__paradeHoffman has played a few great figures from both sides of the literary page (Willy Loman, Truman Capote), but that’s not what gave him the credentials for this interview, it’s that he was clearly a passionate reader. Not a lot people out there these days who will stand up and shout for the dark glories of somebody like Richard Yates:

If you do any great art you’re somehow exposing a part of you. Like Richard Yates, Jesus Christ, that book, you almost don’t want to meet him. I kept feeling for the characters as if they existed.

But perhaps most beautifully, he identifies one of the great solaces of reading, that it’s an act in and of itself with…

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Things Librarians Look At.

Eleventh Stack

Gorgeous-Librarians-2-via-Roadsidepictures-photostream-450x322

When I started as a clerk at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh- East Liberty, I had no idea that being a librarian was a thing. I just needed a job. I didn’t even care about libraries!

It is totally a thing. We do things like this. And there are lists like this. Even Legos!

Here are some funny yet  informative things librarians look at (during lunch breaks of course.)

Awful Library Books

Sometimes books need to be thrown away. Sometimes a librarian can’t do it. These are the (often unintentional) hilarious results.

Book Porn

It’s exactly what it sounds like. Sexy pictures of all things book-related. Unlike regular porn, this will lead to DIY projects.

Book Riot

Book review websites can be so pretentious. As a voracious reader who will read anything, I love that Book Riot covers everyone from J.K. Rowling to Dave Eggers to James…

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