A friend told me about Cloverﬁeld Press a while back — short ﬁction paired with art and letterpress-printed covers. Since I missed this Murakami story in The New Yorker (it’s only online in a terrible, abbreviated version) and never ﬁnished Blind Willow Sleeping Woman, I hadn’t read this one before. It’s a lovely piece on loss, and this little volume is a great way to read it.
I have to preface this by saying that I haven’t actually read this whole book yet, but rather listened to some excerpts. I will appreciate the irony (noted by Gomez) that I will be reading a book about how reading paper books is dead when the time comes, but I wanted to put down some thoughts before I lost them.
Gomez submits here that the debate over the coming demise of printed books is moot, as print is already dead, much in the way that global warming may have already been tipped too far to be corrected. Basically, we are all just waiting for the technology that will free us from bound paper.
Part of his proof is that we already read...more
This is probably my favorite short story collection that I’ve read all year. I ﬁnd the collections I enjoy the most are those where all of the stories are rooted in certain commonalities while each one retains a distinctive feel and focus, as if the collection constitutes an exercise in working out all the possibilities of those few speciﬁc themes.
These are all set in middle-class black Philadelphia, often involve characters who grew up in the 1980s, and largely look to outline the various ways race and class can be intertwined yet also at odds. Another common element is nostalgia, both in the stories set in the past tense entirely and those where the characters themselves are looking back. Many of...more
This is kind of the academic version of Sex and the City, and I kept ﬁnding myself using the words “it’s kind of a ‘chick lit’ novel” in describing it. But it’s more than just a quirky novel about dating.
Our nearly-tenured heroine starts out by talking about the ﬁrst line of Anna Karenina and how “literary types swoon over that line” but it’s “the most widely quoted whopper in world literature” (oops); she goes on to question whether stories can have endings that are both honest and happy. The whole discussion made me think about Among other things, I’ve taken up smoking, and whether it falls into that category of books that thankfully don’t fall into...more
I came across a mention of this book after I ﬁnished Cruddy, more speciﬁcally a mention of the story about Barry’s relationship with Ira Glass entitled “Head Lice and My Worst Boyfriend.” The hilarity potential was irresistible.
One Hundred Demons was inspired by a Zen painting exercise; each of the stories represents some kind of demon she’s battled with, usually imbued with the sort of nostalgic reﬂection that brings the word “poignant” to mind. Except Barry’s raucous sense of humor keeps the cloying possibility under control.more
There’s something strangely straightforward and matter-of-fact about this story of a girl who grows up on an island in Maine and then takes an internship in New York where she experiences her “sexual awakening” (as a back-cover quote describes it). In many books there are moments that feel vaguely out of context for either the character or the progression of the storyline, but this book seems to be a string of such events.
The protagonist Miranda lives a very sheltered life and when she does start to break out of it, she approaches everything with an odd, blasé manner. I can’t even it see it as an eﬀective, detached Mainer attitude. It just feels unbelievable, though the story itself has a...more
In my attempts to make full use of the library, I often forget to hunt out the nice art books I’d buy if I had that much money to throw around and the strength to haul the hefty tomes around every time I move house. Cartier-Bresson is perhaps the photographer I am most likely to browse.more
I didn’t expect this book to be quite as violent as it is. Yet somehow the teenage heroine’s strange sense of humor and the dark, smudgy illustrations make it seem like no big deal. This is one of those stories that progresses in the present while skipping back to the past, maintaining two plot lines that come together near the end seamlessly.more
Eleanor mentioned this and it sounded interesting. Much like she said, the characters were really great but the ending was lackluster. The story takes place in the town Kalimpong during the Indian-Nepali insurgency in the late 1980s with a lot of post-colonial, ﬁrst-world/third-world themes. Overall the meshing of history and ﬁction is rather seamless.
The fact was that one was left empty-handed. There was no system to soothe the unfairness of things; justice was without scope; it might snag the stealer of chickens, but great evasive crimes would have to be dismissed because, if identiﬁed and netted, they would bring down the entire structure of so-called civilization. For crimes that took place in the monstrous dealings between nations, for...more