The Books of October

Late, because well, it’s late.

Books Read:

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 *


Listened to:

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 *