• The Sweet Hereafter

    Russell Banks

    i managed to rent this movie right when my roommate received the book as a gift. i didn’t really care for the movie at all. so much of the story seemed painfully undeveloped, major events slipped in casually and then never referenced again. reading the book, it’s a novel i would not have predicted to be...more

  • Invisible Cities

    Italo Calvino

    i just read this for the first time this past autumn, so this may constitute the fastest desire to re-read a book yet. it is just so vast and focused, beautiful, brilliant. it’s pointless for me to describe it as the words will probably just sound trite. a definite favorite.more


  • The Name of the Rose

    Umberto Eco

    i read a rather obscene amount of agatha christie in junior high, and i really haven’t read anything in that vein until this murder mystery, set in an italian abbey in the year 1327. this is a weightier story than most of those books i read back then — the history is amazingly researched. every detail is placed meticulously. the story takes...more

  • South of France

    Sara Midda

    this isn’t really a book to read or even take in with a page-by-page manner, but i suddenly thought of it this morning, thinking about searching for a certain kind of striped shirt. it reminded me of a little part in here where there is a search for a blue-striped search. it’s difficult to describe this, but the title explains...more

  • The Book of Questions

    Pablo Neruda

    it’s rather pleasing to read this all at once: 74 poems composed of couplets of questions (320 in all), most of which have no true answer. there are many repeating themes, like the moon and the seasons, especially autumn. some questions are more severe: What forced labor does Hitler do in hell?

    most seem more lighthearted, whimsical: But is it...more

  • Poems 4 a.m.

    Susan Minot

    oh, no. more rhyming poetry and about love too. at times this reminded me of marilyn hacker except that hacker has something that minot does not: certainty? only two poems were truly memorable to me (“Bulbs” and “Dawn in a Chilmark Barn”) and otherwise the themes of places and lovers seemed uninspired. maybe her voice isn’t concrete or...more

  • The Middleman and Other Stories

    Bharati Mukherjee

    directly after reading an alice munro book and the fantastic murakami collection, a moderately good group of short stories unfortunately suffers from comparative disappointment. this book had been recommended to me, and i just read and enjoyed jasmine a few weeks ago, but most of the stories here have a painful lack of development. the stories tend...more

  • The Panther and the Lash

    Langston Hughes

    hmm. i don’t really have anything to say about this, except that i’m really not into rhyming poetry. sometimes i wonder if i’d like poetry better if it were read out loud.more


  • Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage

    Alice Munro

    alice munro’s short stories are always so well-contained — rich with detail but no unnecessary words. as a collection, these stories are less linked than others of hers, but the stories have common themes to keep them together, most predictably relationships. munro’s style is so careful, subtly stunning. most times “nothing really happens,” but there’s so much going on. every so often...more

  • Those Who Ride the Night Winds

    Nikki Giovanni

    ellipses create a whole different kind of space and cadence… not to mention this uncertainty of what might have been left out. there are two sections in this: “night winds” focuses on various people who have tried to make change; “daytrippers” follows the path of love. there the liberal use of ellipses makes the verse even more hesitant and charged....more

  • After the Quake

    Haruki Murakami

    i’ve been kind of hesitant on murakami — partially a wariness of the “genius” label often partnered with him. also because the few books i’ve read (Norwegian Wood and Sputnik Sweetheart) had these weird female characters that creeped me out. friends of mine who had read other works by him related having similar responses, so i didn’t go out of my way...more

  • Jasmine

    Bharati Mukherjee

    this showed up in the mail from amanda one day, totally unexpectedly. i had mentioned wanting to read a certain book of short stories by her that someone else recommended to me. this is a novel that apparently has the same themes of lives of exiles and immigrants living in the us. at first i couldn’t believe i was...more

  • Presentation Piece

    Marilyn Hacker

    for poetry from the early ’70s, it’s nice how undated this book feels (aside for”Elegy” written for Janis Joplin after her death). perhaps because the copy i read had an amazingly early ’70s cover design, i kept thinking about this.

    the perspectives make sense to me, and i like how the five sections are subtly distinct, like five eras of a...more

  • Just as I Thought

    Grace Paley

    these are miscellaneous writings collected from throughout grace paley’s life, as a result, it doesn’t always retain a steady level of continuity. predictably the parts that were most interesting to me, in light of recent events, were about wars (mostly vietnam, but also an essay about the gulf war), as paley was very involved in those anti-war movements. the various...more

  • Everything That Rises Must Converge

    Flannery O’Connor

    vacation to the south continues, or really had been going on throughout the poetry days. these short stories share a theme of misunderstanding, especially between family members with misaligned philosophies. many parallels of characters trying to do in essentially flawed manners (trying to prove something, trying to be better than others, etc). well-crafted stories: no wasted words, all the pertinent...more

  • Deepstep Come Shining

    C.D. Wright

    i’ve probably had this for about two years and only browsed through it a little. this was recommended to me by my old roommate addie, and she strongly suggested reading it at the height of summer. it might be good to save this for a hot month, heavy with wet air, as close to the picture of the deep south...more

  • The Seven Ages

    Louise Glück

    read from cover to cover to prove myself wrong. i realize in reading this that i have little vocabulary to talk about poetry, maybe from having a limited background. it’s not that i disliked anything in this specifically, but it didn’t blow me away and i can’t articulate why. near the end suddenly i started noticing how rich the...more

  • Men in the Off Hours

    Anne Carson

    the first book of poetry i’ve tried to consume entirely in a short period of time, and it’s not straight-up poetry, so i may be cheating. this is full of brilliant spaces. the “Hopper: Confessions” series is perhaps my favorite. i have this doubt that i could set my mind to take in a volume of poetry cover to cover,...more

  • The God of Small Things

    Arundhati Roy

    also from the thrift store in woodside. there’s a pleasing cadence to this narrative, a careful rhythm sidestepping between pasts and presents.

    A carbreeze blew. Greentrees and telephone poles flew past the windows. Still birds slid by on moving wires, like unclaimed baggage at the airport. A pale daymoon hung hugely in the sky and went where they went. As

    ...more
  • Ella Minnow Pea

    Mark Dunn

    just breezed right through this “progressively lipgrammatic epistolary fable” (go on, look ’em up, if you don’t know), which addie heartily recommended when we talked over tea in tarrytown last month.

    at first the delivery seemed a little too cute for my taste, but it’s a pretty smart book that won me over quickly. a fictitious island where language...more

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