Friday, June 16, 2006

books I have read

a list by me, Jen

Ages ago I read it, and forgot to mention it. The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl, by a guy with whom, on Saturday, I had tapas (and also his wife – hey, what's it like to live with him, man?). But I am not biased! Maybe a little biased. But also, I am not dumb. I read it in about a sitting and a half. I had some pacing issues with it, particularly around the ending, and I got grumpy with Marzi for going ahead and just assuming that Lindsay was in love with her, because that's just rude. And maybe a little self-involved. I think a deeper sense of menace and apocalypse – a darker sensibility – would have benefited his themes and the story greatly, but overall, when you get right down to it, it is a book about a badass girl who has strange adventures and I am so down with that. It is fun, and imaginative, and funny. Much like Mr. Tim. It is good to have talented friends.

Also I read Micah by that crazy bitch, Laurell K. Hamilton. It was pretty much a short story typographically padded out to be paperback novel length. It did not neither of the things she so likes to do very well at all – there was very little sex, which, you know, thank god because she's gotten a little bit off her rocker with the "crazy" "supernatural" "sex" in her last fifty seven books. And there was very little of the Anita is a badass federal marshal story that I used to like in her early books. The big problem was that it was slight, but had exactly the same amount of "every one loves Anita Blake" (who happens to look so strangely exactly like that author photo on the back of the book) yammering and weird clunky choreography that she is so bad at that her full size novels have. Despite the fact that Micah has an enormous giganto-penis that has caused him a great deal of psychological trauma and Anita is really whiny and irritating, despite all the eye-rolling I did, it made my train ride home on Saturday night just fly by. So she's got that going for her. Or I just enjoy being annoyed.

I loved Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn, extremely a lot. I read it a bunch of years ago, and always thought I'd keep up with his career, but I never quite managed that. But then I found Welcome to Higby in the reshelving area of my library, and I recognized the name and got excited and picked it up. It's a story about the intersecting lives of a bunch of Southern small town residents, and it is amusing and sweet-natured, has an overarching theme that I was slightly too stupid to get until after I was finished and paged through and noticed that those biblical quotes at the beginning of each chapter seemed to actually have something to do with the story, and maybe I shouldn't have skipped them automatically. It made the story pull together, in the aftermath, far more than it had been while I was reading it. It is a story of quirky people doing crazy quirky things and it never got too ridiculously twee and gimmicky, but sometimes I did wonder where the fuck he was going with it. And then I found out. So if you read it, don't skip those bible bits. They are Deep.

Kelly Link is imaginative and writes some gorgeous prose, and some of that gorgeous prose is in Stranger Things Happen, which are stories in which stranger things do happen, and they happen lyrically and sometimes amusingly and sometimes funnily, and sometimes just confusingly, which for me was the weakness of the book. I think she sometimes relied too heavily on the strangeness carrying the story, rather than finding an internal logic that did not necessarily have to be satisfying, but had to satisfy the story, if that makes any sense. But these are early stories, and a first collection. I still loved nearly all the stories, and am waiting anxiously for her second collection to come out in paperback.

In news of books I put down, first was The fucking Accidental, the quirky voice of which filled me with so much rage that I had to stop myself from throwing it across the room. I took a deep breath, and checked forward, and saw that the quirkiness appeared to continue unabated, and I could no longer stand to deal with it and I had reached the very end of my patience and I did not throw the book anywhere because it would be a library book, and that would be rude.

Secondly, I think I have mentioned that I love Jonathan Safran Foer, and how I felt that Everything is Illuminated was deeply flawed, but a really amazing book. So I thought that I'd really love Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, because even though it's an incredibly touchy subject, I thought he could handle it with grace and aplomb and make something amazing out of it. But again, there was that aggressively quirky fucking voice, and a lot of talk about boots being heavy, and god, shut up with the heavy boots and some weirdness that felt self-conscious, and then there were fucking pictures from September 11th that had no business being in a book and it made me angry and I had to put it down very, very firmly.

And that is all I remember reading in the past four months. I've read more than that, surely I have. But those are what stick out. Go me!


Blogger shaz said...

Hi there. I added your blog as a link on mine. I hope you don't mind. We are a group of friends who started an online book club.

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you hated The Accidental. I abandoned my copy of it in an airport departure lounge in protest. There was a narrative in there that could have been a compelling story. But all i felt while reading it was, jesus would you shut the fuck up?

3:10 PM  

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