Sunday, February 21, 2010

a whole sunset on my head

I’ve been lucky so far this year book-wise. I read Herta Müller’s The Land of Green Plums, which I liked much more than I expected. I hadn’t intended to read it, but my mother had it along at Christmas and left it here. I thought, oh yeah, more literary obscurity from the Nobel Prize folks, but her writing is great. The book is peppered with sentences like this: “On my way home I was carrying a nutria fur cap in my hand and a whole sunset on my head.” (p. 184)

I also read Chris Bachelder’s Bear v. Shark. A few pages in I thought I was going to hate it, being largely a poke at an over-the-top media-drenched society. But it was hilarious. And it answered all sorts of important questions, like “do the Dutch have a culture?” and “does a shark have a neck?”

The first book I finished this year was John Banville’s The Sea. I didn’t like it as much as Athena, but still, he’s an incomparable prose stylist. I’d like to say Banville is a marvel at describing characters, but in fact he’s a marvel at describing everything, from a breeze to a dog’s hind leg.

As for poetry, I have yet to have my socks knocked off but I did hugely enjoy Howie Good’s 5-poem ebook Pig/Iron. You can read it here for free! I can be a hard sell on prose poetry, although I write it myself, and though I didn’t like the first poem that much, I was convinced by the second that I was in good hands.

Now I’m reading Today I Wrote Nothing by Daniil Kharms, and can only say I’m more than impressed. May I say I feel less alone in the world? May I say “The miracle worker was very tall?”

I guess it sounds like blue skies&black coffee but I’ve read some so-so stuff, too, including some poetry I couldn’t even begin to understand and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which annoyed me and weirdly enough is on the (in)famous list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Goes to show that books need a decade to stew before being propelled to “classics" status.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

I never thought of prose as an option. But I'm being convinced otherwise.

Pig/Iron is a good'un. Try also Living In The Past by Philip Schultz. Prose memoir in short bursts...

- Jeff

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