Late, because well, it’s late.
Library of Souls: The Third Miss Peregrine Book – Ransom Riggs
Not as good as the earlier books in the trilogy. You can tell in places that he’s added material (generally sentence or two of description of the appearance of a character – a walk-on part as it were) that is based on needing to add a photograph at that point. The photographs conceit has worn itself out. Otherwise it’s good enough and enough like the other books to make it a quick read. There are better books. A little disappointing as a finish for the trilogy.
* only if you need to find out how the trilogy ends *
Man’s Search for Meaning – Frankl
Not all that. Beloved by many. Reducible to “for life to be worth hanging onto in the face of evil and separation it has to have meaning”. How you find that meaning is left as an exercise for the reader. We already knew this. I was disappointed I expected something considerably more profound about the nature of meaning in life.
* if everyone else is reading it, otherwise skip it *
Consider the Lobster and Other Essays – David Foster Wallace
The god of footnotes (I love a good footnote) ponders the ways of the world and the moral implications of boiling lobsters. Also some bits of literary review The one on the making of Garner’s Modern American Usage is a lively waffle on the question of descriptive vs prescriptive grammar and dictionaries. His mediation on Frank’s biography of Dostevsky and his work in relation to the Russian philosophies of the day is of interest only to the weirdos in the crowd who read too many Russian Romantics in high school and studied philosophy as undergrads – oh wait that’s me.
* if you love a good footnote or wonder about lobsters… *
The Virgin Suicides – Jeffery Eugenides
Weirdly narrated by a voice that uses “we” and provides the point of view of a group of teenage (barely) boys. The subject of their obsession a group of five sisters, all of whom commit suicide over the course of one year. That sounds awful. But it’s not. You’ll come to love the girls and to sympathize with the boys – who are drawn into a mystery that goes beyond the reasons for the suicides and plumbs the depths of what it means to be an adolescent.
* worth your time. can’t speak to the movie. *
Anagrams – Lorrie Moore
Bored by a third of the way through and dropped it. I prefer her short stories.
* Middle-aged academic angst *
Citizen: An American Lyric – Claudia Rankin
I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’m not too fond of other people (a whole bunch of big name reviewers) telling me that I’m supposed to be impressed and react in a certain way to someone’s work. It leaves me cold. And I think that coldness affected my perception of this book. From the hoodie on the cover to the vignettes of everyday racism as experienced by the poet, the point of the collection of poems is obvious. The personalization of racism in the US makes an impression. If you’re a tennis fan or know a tennis fan Rankin’s perspective on Serena Williams’ experiences is worth reading. There are other pieces that spoke to me. But some parts – the video scripts in particular – that are so muddled that I couldn’t keep what was going on straight.
* probably required reading *
Non-Required Reading – 2014 – Daniel Handler ed.
How can a bunch high school students chose such an excellent collection of writing? Stories, poems, non-fiction pieces and some that flit between all of these. There are a couple of clunkers that show the youth of the editorial board. But on the whole the quality and depth of the chosen material will restore your faith in the thinking power of today’s high school students.
* this series is always worth your time *
Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino
Is this Venice? Or are these truly cities of the imagination? – variations on some eternal Platonic City. The explorer Marco Polo describes for the Emperor Kubla Khan the cities that he has visited in his travels. Each city is a small chapter perhaps even a prose poem. I love this book. I reread it every couple of years to remind me how many variations there on any one pattern. Also I love Calvino’s writing.
* How can I make you need to read this? *
Works and Days and Theogony – Hesiod, trans Stanely Lombardo
Read excerpts from it in Freshman Humanities. Revisiting it as research for a screen play. There is more humor in it than I remember. The translation is good if a bit more casual in tone than I think of when I think of translated Greeks.
* really, the Greeks could be funny *
Angel Maker – Nick Harkaway.
Romping fun from the second world war to modern England. With steampunk bees, a fabulous heroine, and a revolting dog.
* Harkaway’s best *