March Reading

Two books a month is the goal and so far I’ve been dead on target. Even with a new Cryptic Crosswords book and a toddler-sized stack of comics from a SECRET ADMIRER I still managed to achieve my goal this month.

The New York Trilogy — Paul Auster

I had read the graphic novel adaptation of the first novella included here — City of Glass — and loved it, so I wanted to read the original plus the other two works: Ghosts and The Locked Room. All three are existential detective stories that start out with mundanely familiar tropes — protect a client from a would-be murderer, spy on a target, locate a missing person — but which quickly veer off into tangents that explore fundamental questions of identity, language, writing, and simple existence. There are stories unlike any others and well worth checking out.

1984 — George Orwell

This is sort of a re-read, but only sort of. I first read it in…well…1984 and I was just a punk kid then who didn’t know nothin’ about nothin’. (I read it on my own, not for a class, so I didn’t have a kind teacher to help explain that this world was exactly like Soviet Russia but could never happen in America because we have Freedom and Democracy and Checks and Balances.) Also I skipped a part of the book (the book-within-a-book) because I found it dull (honestly, it still kinda is). So now I’ve officially read the whole thing. And man. Wow. You know, for a while there certain people were telling political lefties “Okay, quit with the Orwell references. Enough is enough.” I suspected then but now know for certain that we weren’t making half the Orwell references we needed to. The true horror here is not the totalitarian state described within, but the near-complete compliance the citizens have for it. Definitely required reading.

I believe I have my two April books already picked out. I’ll report back on them in 30!

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6 Responses to March Reading

  1. Albatross says:

    You’re probably a bit Auster’d out right now, but when you have a chance, check out Leviathan by him – I liked it even better than The New York Trilogy.

    Just wrapped up the absolutely outstanding House of Leaves and am on Invisible Cities.

  2. bugink says:

    I am back in the inter-library loan loop again so I have a stack to start reading….as for graphic novels I’d like to read Incognegro by Mat Johnson sometime soon – I should go request it now….

  3. Dave says:

    bugink, that’s one of the graphic novels I read this month, and it’s quite good. I can loan it to you if you like.

  4. Topher says:

    If you are looking for something beyond April, I’d humbly suggest “Sharp Teeth” by Toby Barlow. It’s the story of a female werewolf who falls in love with a dogcatcher…all told in Homeric verse.

    There’s no reason this format should work, but it does.

  5. mattwran says:

    A book I recently finished and would recommend would be Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan – multiple levels of narration, surreal story, funny, and really creative use of language. I’m glad to hear House of Leaves get good reviews from people I know. I was interested in the book when I first heard about it, but was afraid that it sounded too gimmicky. Albatross – remind me to lend you this book, Myself and Marco Polo by Paul Griffiths. If you like House of Leaves and Invisible Cities (you are talking about the Calvino book of that name, right?) then I think you’ll like this one.

  6. Albatross says:

    Yeah, I mean the Italo Calvino book. Big fan of his. I can see how you’d be worried about House of Leaves, but it delivers. In fact, it makes fun of itself (and academic criticism generally). There are lots of little details like the secret codes that you don’t really need to bother with to enjoy the work. And the structural gymnastics are pretty much motivated. On top of it all, it manages to be genuinely freaky.