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Posts Tagged ‘reading’

I recently finished Anagrams, by Lorrie Moore, at the recommendation of my excellent friend. She’d lent me her copy a long time ago, and I finally got around to reading it. If you want my short and sweet summary, it’s something along the lines of a sigh of relief and “At last! A book that honors the multiplicity and contingency of identity instead of pathologizing it.”

anagrams lorrie moore

Anagrams is a collection of short stories. Kind of. It starts out as a series of short stories about two people, and various permutations of their relationship — sometimes platonic, sometimes romantic, sometimes toxic. Things then move into the bulk of the work, a longer narrative where reality seems to settle down a bit. Amidst all this, there are a lot of excellent puns, and an emphasis on what happens when things are rearranged.

I want to tell you all about the “what happens” of this novel, and how it fits in with the title, and the wordplay, but I’m not one to ruin endings, and I hate that some of the reviews out there reveal what was, for me, the most mind-tickling part of the narrative (so be careful if you seek out other reviews). I guess I’ll just vaguely say that your trust in this novel will be handsomely rewarded.

While I know some people criticize the choices Moore made with constructing this narrative, I see her moves in this novel as an opportunity to be interested — interested in how we construct our identity, which parts of our experiences we decide are “real” enough to form who we are, which we present to other people, and which we bury and disregard. How do we decide what constitutes my “I” that I hold with such force? Is it what happened to me? what I did? what I didn’t do? who I did not become? the thoughts that never saw the light of day?

Anagrams takes incredible risks that kept my mind buzzing for days after I finished. Between that and Moore’s incredible writing that had me laughing out loud (a rare experience for me when I read), I am so glad that Zoe recommended this to me, and that I finally read it. This novel is absolutely worth your time if you want to be challenged, pushed, amused, and surprised. Isn’t that why we read in the first place?

(As always, show your local bookstores some love. They need it right now. As this is a slightly older work, they may not have it on hand, but they can probably get if for you faster than Amazon. Soapbox relinquished.)

P.S. I’ve totally been knitting. In fact, I’ve finished two things since we talked last. However, we’re finally getting some season-appropriate weather in Northern California, which means few photo opportunities. I’m excited to show my latest accomplishments to you, and hope that can happen soon!

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I propose that you all embark with me on a mission: McCarthy March.

No, we’re not going to accuse everyone we know of being a dirty commie for the month of March.

Instead! I plan to read as many books by Cormac McCarthy in the month of March as I can. What do you all think? Fun? Crazy? A little of both?

This won’t include The Road, because I’ve already read it, and so has almost everyone else.

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bel-canto I just finished reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. What a thoroughly¬† enjoyable book. I’m a sucker for writing that pays attention to details, specifically details of material objects and the way we experience things; Bel Canto thoroughly satisfied that desire.

Patchett’s story starts with an extravagant party centered around a renowned opera singer and foreign dignitaries and businessmen. Terrorists crash the party and take the party guests hostage. Patchett uses the scenario to play out improbable connections and affections within the party guests, terrorists, and between the parties that began in opposition.

I experienced Bel Canto as a narrative of compassion — the characters and their boundaries soften as the plot unfolds, as time and identity pass away and the individual is allowed to step forward. Patchett moves flawlessly between characters’ voices — literally translating over languages, and using her opera singer’s voice as a unifying thread for all the characters. Bel Canto gives the reader an opportunity to consider what kinds of love might surface if we were lucky enough to be forced out of our comfort zones and confront ourselves and others as people joined by a desire to experience beauty, pleasure, comfort, and love.

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Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book won the Newbery today. Yay! Tonight is devoted to finally reading it.

Read Gaiman’s Coraline yesterday, which I cannot recommend highly enough. It’s geared towards early teens, but really, it’s an anybody and everybody book. Just creepy and surreal enough, well done, and an awesome girl protagonist. What’s not to love? I wanted to make sure I got to it before the movie came out, and I thoroughly loved it. Iexpect to be sending it off to a few younger readers I know.

Anyway, time to bury my nose in a book.

…do I need to remind you to get this from your local independent bookstore? I didn’t think so. I’ll also remind you, except not, that if you have no local independent bookstore, powells.com is a good choice.

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Read a Fucking Book

and get it from an independent bookstore while you’re at it.

My new favorite website.

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My New Years’s Resolutions are a break from the past — instead of resolutions that I’ll fall out of by February and feel guilty for all year, these are designed to be nice and compassionate with myself, and focus on cultivating this I already like about myself and do regularly.

So.

1. Take another stab at the book-a-week thing. It was a good challenge and I think that, especially working in a bookstore, I stand a fair chance. Besides, “failing” at this resolution is still a success.

2. Keep pushing myself to eat more fresh produce — it’s difficult when I’m working, but I feel like I could do a few dinners a week. If nothing else, get some veggies into that pasta.

3. Be more alert to when I need to take care of myself physically — getting more sleep! — and emotionally — allowing myself introvert time. 2009 is going to be the year of compassion compassion compassion.

4. Devote January to completing languishing knitting projects. After that, all bets are off — I need to remember that knitting is something for me, and feeling guilty over how many half-completed pairs of socks I have isn’t doing me any favors. That having been said, I would like more complete pairs of socks.

5. I would really like to get into bookmaking this year.

I think that’s it? I guess it would be good to floss, too…

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Resolved

If I’m not mistaken, the one resolution I made for myself this year was to read a book a week, or a total of 52 books for the year.

Right now — December 7, 2008 — I’m on my 39th book.

This means I can either:
1. Fail at my single resolution
2. Read 13 books by the end of the month

I’m biting the bullet, because at least I can say I tried.

Suggestions? I like fiction, especially East of Eden and Beloved — poetic or dreamlike narratives, nostalgia, familial lines, connection, attention to unnoticed people and detail…

And, I guess I should add, ones that can be read in, oh, two or three days.

Copper boom!

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