• The Beauty of the Husband

    Anne Carson

    all the Anne Carson books i’d like to take out at the library are always missing from the shelf — i finally took this one out so i could stop frowning at it. as i thought, i’m not so into the story here: it’s “the story of a marriage” and throughout the characters are called “the wife” and “the husband” but other...more

  • The River of Lost Voices

    Mark Brazaitis

    written by one of sandi’s professors at wvu, these stories are all set in guatemala. it’s a little weird reading stories about guatemala from the perspective of a white american, but he seems to bring light to the tense and...more

  • Power Politics

    Arundhati Roy

    we saw arundhati roy speak last month, with her cleverly titled Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free). i expected nothing less than these eloquent essays about globalization and privatization of public assets in india. her writing is so engaging and accessible that...more

  • Ship Fever

    Andrea Barrett

    the back of the book claims these are “set against the backdrop of the nineteenth century.” i don’t want to nitpick or anything, but several are mostly set in the twentieth century and two are set in the eighteenth century.

    the stories all hinge on the sciences — from genetics to zoology to public health to several other...more

  • New Addresses

    Kenneth Koch

    another recommendation from elissa, poems addressed to various things like “life” and “yes” and “the italian language” and “wars,” etc. a nice study in anthropomorphism with prying reflection....more

  • The Stories of John Cheever

    John Cheever

    i only read about a third of this, since 700 pages of short stories seemed like a bit much all at once. even if i have been reading so many short story collections lately. these are set mostly in nyc, various times between the 1930s and 1950s with a range of class focuses. Cheever has exciting insights into his characters. i loved the slightly...more

  • Camera Lucida

    Roland Barthes

    theories on photography by someone who is not a photographer. knowing little of the technical aspects of photography, Barthes attaches his own kind of technicality by applying his own terminologies to the observation of photos. the first section is much heavier, laying out his basic theory; though the second part, written at a later date...more

  • Close Range

    Annie Proulx

    sometimes i don’t know if it’s that the stories get better as they come or if it just takes a few to get into the general feel. having been in wyoming last year, it’s nice to have a sense of how attuned the descriptions of scenery and atmosphere are in this collection. the longer stories are easy favorites: “Pair of Spurs”...more

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

    Betty Smith

    i’m surprised i never read this when i was younger, and reading it now, i wish i had read it then. it’s a coming-of-age story set in williamsburg (long before it was hip and fucked up) at the turn of the century. there are so many wonderful things about...more

  • Circling the Drain

    Amanda Davis

    it’s kind of morbid that i sought this book out after reading Davis’s obituary in march. she also published a novel entitled...more

  • Across the Bridge

    Mavis Gallant

    the april 2003 issue of Harper’s had a review of the two new collections of Gallan’s stories—being published by The New York Review of Books (...more

  • Atomic Field

    Nicholas Christopher

    i picked this up last summer when i was temping at a publishing company, and i started to read it but never finished. the book is comprised of two extended poems, one, one dated 1962 and one 1974, each made up of 45 smaller poems. the two series of images and memories and dreamlike scenarios don’t seem like solid pieces in...more

  • And Her Soul Out of Nothing

    Olena Kalytiak Davis

    undoubtedly my favorite book of poetry, though having read so little it probably means a little less than it could. though reading this, i hardly expect to find a complete work that will resonate with me as much as this. it’s calm and striking; her way of phrasing things perfectly and the sudden moments of stark understanding and images of sky and melancholy make this something to return to again and again.more

  • Sister of My Heart

    Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

    last summer, during my total short story fixation, i read The Unknown Errors of Our Lives, also by Divakaruni — it’s probably one of my favorite collections, so i was curious to read something else...more

  • 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...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...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...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...more

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