Wednesday, May 02, 2007

April Reads

Books Read

  • The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion
  • Murder of the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
  • New York Trilogy – Paul Austre
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith
  • Lucky Dog - Mark Barrowcliffe

Here is the first in what will be a recapping of the books I read each month. I want to include the books I picked up as well but this month there are too many to list so I'm skipping that bit. Thank you Kate, John, Eric, Matt A., Ben, David, and Matt M. for the suggestion that you sent me, they really helped me get started on this goal of more fiction, though the fist book I read turned out to be a Memoir so not technically fiction. Please email me any of your favorites if you haven't already done so, I love being able to chat with folks who sent in suggestions because the book ends up being infinitely better with the conversation afterwards.

When checking out at the library based on the Amazon recommendation I was sure it was a novel but 10 pages in realized my mistake. The book details the year in which the Author loses her Husband and her daughter with in months of each other and my friend Carrie told me she couldn't get through it because of that. Last month I read this book called Love is a Mixtape in which the Author loses his young wife suddenly and I found myself having to read short sections at a time followed by long periods of holding Kate and trying to convince her not to die suddenly. It was much tougher to get through because of the context. I did not have a husband and daughter so reading about that lose was easier, detached from my own possiblities. I do, though, have a young wife and have often thought about what life would be like without her. I think I might just be done, check out completely but this guy didn't. He was able to move on, albeit after a good long time.

Next I read the classic Agatha Christie Mystery Murder on the Orient Express finally getting into some Fiction. It was a quick read and I really enjoyed it and then followed it up with Paul Austre's New York Triology. The pairing of the two books was really great as Christie's book was the classic mystery novel while Austre's tweaked the genre. My friend John called the New York Trilogy probably the most influential piece of fiction he had read so I was particularly eager to get it. I wanted to understand the subtext and be able to dialogue with him about it, but I'm not sure how succesful I was. We had a great talk about the book and the idea of identity and the meaninglessness of things but I fear I have a ways to go before I really understand what I am reading.

I picked up another book that John had recommended next and Kate asked how I liked A Tree grows in Brooklyn. I had not finished that book when she suggested it to me last year and she gave me a hard time about choosing my friends suggestins over hers. I'm not saying she guilted me into reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I really did want to read and had forgoton about it, but she knew what she was doing with her little side comment. The book was difficult for me to read but the pay off was nice. There was a couple of interesting talks Kate and I had about communication in marriage. Anyone who knows Kate would find this shocking I'm sure. We watched the classic guys movie Diner and there was this scene where Shrevie laments his relationship with his wife. He can talk until sunrise with the guys at the Diner but can't talk for 5 minutes with his wife. In the book there is a bar owner that envied Johnny, a rather no-good fellow in most respects, because he could talk to his wife for hours. The book was mostly depressing and Kate admitted that she tended towards those books she thought, because her childhood was so great.

The last book of the month was the one for our book club called Lucky Dog. I am not sure what it is we are going to talk about with this book as it is not really thought provoking literature. The book centers around a dog that talks, though only our hero can hear him. There is a review on Amazon that says if you love Garfield then this is the book for you. Not exactly a strong case for reading this book but it was a fun beach type book anyway. I wonder where the Beach Type book came from, who first coined the term "Beach Read"? I don't ever go to the beach to read but I use the term as if I am constantly shaking sand from towel and marking my place with dried seaweed. The book was entertaining and lasted all of two days so next time you find yourself off to a beach bookless grab a copy and enjoy.

I am sure this whole thing comes off as "oh look at me, I am so smart, I read a lot and stuff" and that is ok with me. I mostly feel pretty dumb, especially amoung the PHD's and college grads in our hood, so I'm fine with pretending to be part of that crowd. I stay at home with Finn, don't have any other job, have only one kid who sleeps 6 hours a day, and a lot of free time on my hands. I can grab a book and some tasty beverage and lay on the over stuffed couch on the screened in front porch and read. That is the life I live these days, and the writing about reading is just something fun for me to do to mask the utter laziness of the whole business. I figure if I can fool you into thinking I'm smart you'll forget that I am really just a bum!


Linsey said...

Yay! The New York Trilogy!!! Isn't that a trip? (Did it do anything to redeem "The Book of Illusions" for you? I still feel guilty about that...)

superultra said...

ha! james, I really enjoyed our conversation regarding the NYT. Moreover, I felt honored that you chose to read it.

jamie said...

Don't sell yourself short James. There are thousands of women and probably men who stay at home to raise children in a nurturing enviornment. I consider you very smart to have made that choice and to budget well enough to stick with it. The reading is extra.

Meg Schroeder said...

Happy Belated Birthday, hope the weekend of events was way fun! And fun to read about your books; I think you have a great life, one to be envied. Make sure you appreciate Kate a little extra when you come to these points of realization that you get to do what you love, 'cuz I'm pretty sure she doesn't always love her stuff, but she makes it possible for you to love yours. Have you tried a Barbara Kingsolver yet? I loved "Bean Trees" but "the Poisonwood Bible" might rock your world a little more.