Some book notes

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About the photo
■ The McCreight was a good beach read (even if I had solved much of its mysteries well before the midpoint and the central mystery almost upon “meeting” the character). I read her debut, Reconstructing Amelia, a couple of years ago. That’s the better book.

This post inspired me to tug the Booth book from the shelves.

This article prompted an impulse purchase.

The Mandibles… How is it possible that each Lionel Shriver novel I read is better than the last? I am made speechless by the humor and horror she wrings from a believably developed economic collapse and the slow apocalypse that follows, so I encourage you to read Jean’s remarks at Necromancy Never Pays. Her post includes a number of quotes from the book, but here is one I pressed into my commonplace book:

p. 15
Since the Stonage, he’d had an ear for it. Everyone else thought that the worst was behind them; order had been gloriously and permanently restored. But for Willing, during his own seminal where-were-you-then occasion at the grand old age of eight, The Day Nothing Went On had been a revelation, and revelations did not un-reveal themselves; they did not fit back into the cupboard. As a consequence of this irreversible epiphany, he had learned to upend expectations. There was nothing astonishing about things not working, about things falling apart. Failure and decay were the world’s natural state. What was astonishing was anything that worked as intended, for any duration whatsoever.

■ My youngest and I were alternately fascinated and horrified by the 2012 article “How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy” (The Atlantic). So, yes, I had to pick up McAuliffe’s book. I placed the order in response to this letter from Jeff Deutsch, director of the Seminary Co-op Bookstores.

If every current member bought one additional book from us this year and then convinced a friend, family member or colleague to do the same, we would double our sales and nearly eliminate our operating deficit. I am asking you to advocate on behalf of this business with the same passion that you would if you were the sole owner.

Consider placing an order, won’t you? You were going to buy a book this week. You know it. I know it. Place the order with the Seminary Co-op Bookstores. Thank you.

Not about the photo
■ Fifteen of the sixty-five books I’ve completed to date have been works of graphic fiction; ten have been plays; and eleven have been non-fiction titles. I had (unspoken) goals of reading at least twenty-six non-fiction books this year and at least four volumes of poetry. Obviously, at eleven and zero, I am not poised to reach them; however, putting the goals in writing may increase the odds that I will, at the very least, try harder.

■ Of the twenty-nine novels I’ve read so far this year, the standouts comprise:

The Shawl (Cynthia Ozick; 1990. Fiction.)
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (Robin Sloan; 2013. Fiction.)
The Sparrow (Mary Doria Russell; 1996. Fiction.)
Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad; 1899. Fiction.)
A Good School (Richard Yates; 1978. Fiction.)
The Girls (Emma Cline; 2016. Fiction.)
The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 (Lionel Shriver; 2016. Fiction.)
The Only Ones (Carola Dibbell; 2015. Fiction.)

I wrote about The Sparrow, a reread, here. My experience with Conrad’s slim volume served as a sobering reminder that some books were absolutely wasted on younger versions of me. My recommendation of The Girls (and Helter Skelter) last month was probably lost in the chorus, but don’t miss the thoughtful post at The Sheila Variations.

One thought on “Some book notes

  1. I did like The Mandibles and thought it prescient but after the election, I’d have to say it was not influential enough. (Possibly because the author is an impossible person and distracts people from reading her novels.)

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