For a while, I was posting a round-up post on Sundays discussing my reading from the previous week, and I’d like to return to that whenever I can. The truth is that when I’m both in the swing of the semester and working on formal reviews for other sites, devoting even a half hour to writing this kind of post becomes very difficult. But I’m going to do it as much as I can, so the books I’m reading get some attention here, even if only a little.
So, current reading. I’m feeling a little allergic to novels right now. Perhaps trying to read a bunch of them quickly for both the Booker read-along last August and September and the alternative Tournament of Books reading I did in November and December has left me tired of fiction for a while. Last week I finished a memoir, Lynn Darling’s Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding. This was well-written and about subjects that interest me (learning one’s way through the woods, weathering changes that mid-life brings) and about a place that interests me (Vermont). But it left me a little cold. It was a thoroughly traditional memoir — person changes life with high hopes, is disappointed, recovers, learns — and written in a familiar style. Perhaps my problem right now is not that I’m allergic to novels per se, but that I’m allergic to books that fit comfortably in their genre, whatever it is, rather than challenging it or trying to break through it.
I’m having better luck with a very slow reread of Heidi Julavits’s The Folded Clock, probably my favorite book from last year. I’m reading an entry every evening before sleep, and I’m loving it once again. This is the kind of writing I want.
I’m also slowly reading my way through Emma, which, yes, is a novel and a traditional one, but it’s an old novel, and not one I find tiresome in my current state. Rereading seems to be going better for me these days than reading for the first time, and perhaps I should do more of it.
I’m also halfway through a forthcoming book on memoir, but I won’t discuss that in detail here, since I’m writing a formal review of it. Let’s just say that … current writing on memoir as a genre has NOT been satisfactory. I want another book like Vivian Gornick’s The Situation and the Story. Or maybe I should just reread that one.
Speaking of formal reviews, I had one come out last week at Full Stop Magazine, of Susana Moreira Marques’s book Now and at the Hour of Our Death. I admired this book very much.
Have a great week everyone!