Monday, September 28, 2009

The Wild Glow of a Scientist

How We Are Hungry is the first work of Dave Eggers I have read. This book is a collection of short stories. It seems to me that I've been reading a whole bunch of short stories lately.

Egger's short stories range in length, some of them clocking in at less than two pages long. They aren't connected like A Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing; each story can be read and enjoyed on their own. They vary in voice, some from a man's point of view and some from a woman's and they are all very distinct.

"Up the Mountain Coming down Slowly" was one of my favorites. It chronicles Rita as she climbs Mount Kilimanjaro. Eggers did a great job of describing the journey up the mountain and capturing the sad determination of Rita.

My other favorite was "The Only Meaning of the Oil-Wet Water" which a girl named Pilar visits her friend Hand down in Costa Rica. The two have a romantic encounter and surf. This story has the thoughts of the horses, clouds and shadows as well, which is a little of what I expected from Eggers.

"HORSES: It's never like we planned.
HORSES SHADOWS ON DIRT ROAD: I wish I could do more.
HORSES: We want violence, so we can kick and tear the world into thirds."

Some of these stories I wish had been longer, so I'm looking forward to reading one of Egger's novels. I own A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, so maybe that will move up on my to-read pile.

In other breaking news, I'm still in the process of reading 2666, but yesterday I finished part 4 so I only have one more section! This book is really interesting, but at the same time I feel like I can't read it for hours like I can with other books.

I've also kind of stalled out of The Complete Sherlock Holmes. I was really disappointed with the first story in it. Holmes catches the bad guy, but we never find out why he killed someone or even how Holmes figured everything out. Hopefully the rest are better.

Some people I know are rereading Hunger by Knut Hamson so I've started working on that as well. I read this book for a course in college and had a very interesting time with it. I would get so frustrated with the protagonist that I wanted to throw the book at the wall, and yet the book is so fascinating to me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The tiger does not eat far away

I picked this up from my local library the other day. I've read two of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's books before, Love in the Time of Cholera and Love and Other Demons, and adored them both.

This short work is the recollections of a ninety year old man who wants to celebrate his birthday by having a night with a young virgin. We follow him for a year as he falls in love with this girl who he only sees sleeping night after night.

I liked this book, sort of. I enjoy the way that Marquez tells a story, but I feel like this could have been better. I got confused at some points as to who the old man was talking about and I don't feel that he really talked about the rest of his life satisfactorily. The secondary characters were more interesting to me than the narrator, especially Rosa Cabarcas. I just couldn't get into this story the way I could with his other works. I wouldn't classify this one as a "must read" but I would still give the rest of Marquez's books a read.

I've got a stack of books on my desk I need to blog about. Unemployment means I have lots of time to read. I've also been having a lot of trouble sleeping and have been staying up very late reading. I finished the rest of the Charlaine Harris vampire books, Dave Eggers How We Are Hungry, and am almost done with Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Also almost done with the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Still slogging my way through 2666, though I'm stuck in a slow part right now.

Lately it seems that everyone is lending me books to read. My dad lent me Sharon Kay Penmans When Christ and His Saints Slept, my friend Liz gave me the first three books in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series and my brother Ryan keeps harping at me to read Robert Jordan's the Eye of the World. I'm not sure which of these I'm going to start first, but I want to finish a couple of the one's I'm currently reading before I start anything else.

Also one more note, as I said earlier I got this book from the library. I went and got my first library card in years the other day. I don't think I've had one since I left for college since during college we just used our student ids. The library out here is pretty small, smaller than the one I grew up with, but it is well laid out and seems to have a good selection. I might go hang out there before work today.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The charm of those provincial ladies

I make no secret that I am a big fan of Russian lit. I have a hard time not buying books by Russian authors whenever I see them and so I have a big stack of Russian books yet to be read.

I read the Queen of Spades and Other Stories for one of my Russian Lit classes in college and really enjoyed Pushkin. Puskin is best known for Euguine Onegin and for being the father of Russian literature.

This novella is a short collection of tales from the travels of Belkin. These short tales rang in scope from love story, revenge and horror. "The Snowstorm" and "Ladymaid" may be my favorites. It's a hard call though. Pushkin manages to tell stories that seem both familiar and new.

This is a very short little book, part of the art of the novella series published by Melville House Publishing. I highly recommend this book.

"Young men, who consider bravery the height of human accomplishment, and an excuse for every shortcoming, rarely forgive a lack of courage." page 25

"Maria Gabrielovna had been raised on French novels; it should therefore go without saying that she was in love." page 39

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Shopping Trip

I had the need to go to the bookstore the other day and thought I'd share what I got.

First up is McSweeny's Issue 13 which is pretty cheap if you buy it from the actually website: Here or if you get a discount because you work at a bookstore. I've been reading a lot of graphic novels and reading a bunch of comics online lately, so I'm excited to read this one.

Second is American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I've heard a lot of good things about this one. I read Coraline (my thoughts on that here) but that's it from him. I really enjoyed Coraline so I'm looking forward to reading this one. Actually finishing this one, since I am already on chapter three. Gaiman's website is worth checking out if you haven't yet:

And, finally, Tales of Belkin by Alexander Pushkin. I've recently read an article about this series of book, the Art of the Novella Series. I unfortunately can't seem to find the article anymore which is frustrating me, although the publisher's website has several links to related articles. Aside from my infinite love for Russian Lit, I picked this book up because the design is really simple and appealing. Melville House Publishing has a variety of different stories in the Art of the Novella series, which can be found here. These just look so good and are most are from authors that have yet to disappoint me. I'm planing on reading this one on Saturday.

Not photographed was the amazing pumpkin spice latte I got. Book and coffee make me one happy girl.

I prefer empty cages

I often pick up books from Anaïs Nin even though this is the first thing by her I've ever read. Reading A Spy in the House of Love was a little strange. The edition I have is only 117 pages and yet it took me forever to read it. The weird part is that I wasn't bored with this book, I found most of it to be really interesting and relateable; I just set it aside and forgot about it.

The book focuses on Sabina, an actress who is about as restless as they come. She's married and claims to love her husband Alan very much, but she can't seem to help having affairs where ever she goes. She uses her career as an actress to conduct her affairs, by telling her husband she has an performance out of town, when in reality, we hear very little about her actually acting. She seems a much more successful actress in her own life than on the stage.

Sabina has extreme anxiety due to the fact that she's making up stories and pretending to be different people all of the time. She never wants to stay in one place for very long and feels confined by everyday life. The book jumps around a lot from one affair to another, from one Sabina to another.

It's always intriguing to me to read about the minds of cheaters and liars, to see how the morally dubious justify their actions. What's interesting about Sabina is that she seems on one hand to be very concerned about her behavior and on the other hand tells herself there is no other way she could live. She mentions that her father appeared to have many extra-marital relationships but doesn't seem to spend time connecting that to her current behavior.

Anaïs Nin is pretty famous for writing erotica for a dollar a page for a friend of Henry Miller. She's also well known for her Diary, which is roughly nine-thousand volumes. Just kidding, it's only over 150.

Two quotes:

"His airplanes were not different from her relationships, but which she sought other lands, strange faces, forgetfulness, the unfamiliar, the fantasy and the fairytale." - page 71.

"In this world they had criminals too. Gangsters in the world of art, who produced corrosive works born of hatred, who killed and poisoned with their art. You can kill with a painting or a book too." - page 110.