the good news: I read the books I said I’d read! I’m working on my MBA, so I’ve been trekking along with my reading this year a little slower than I’d like (seriously, reading my textbooks for marketing & management classes is NOT my jive), but my last couple have been really awesome.
Tenth of December, George Saunders: I kind of wanted to hate this, since everybody and their mom is raving about it (and I’m just that kind of perverse person), but it was pretty amazing. The short stories are bizarre, creative, a little sad, and a lot of the type where you just put the book down between stories and think “WTF?” but then it brings you to musings about human nature and life and you realize that it was more than just crazy, he was making a point. My favorite story in this collection was “Escape from Spiderhead,” because it opitimizes what I read someone else saying about Saunders: that he sees the human race as all sorts of screwed up, but at the end, we really are worth loving. People can be really awful, really cruel, and horrifically creative in their torture of one another, but we also be selflessly good.
THEN I read The Death of Bees, by Lisa O’Donnell, sent to me courtesy of Powell’s Indiespensable, which is one of my favorite things on earth. I don’t have a whole lot of thoughts on this one other to say that it’s creative, different, fun, gory, and thought-provoking: my favorite.
My favorite read of the last few weeks, though, was the other book in the Indiespensable package: The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Booy. The book alternates, chapter by chapter, different viewpoints: Martin, an employee in a retirement home in California; Mr. Hugo, an old, disfigured man in France and England; Amelia, a blind woman in New York; John, now young in World War II, now old in 2005; and various others. The novel skips through time and space, telling individual vignettes and stories that start coming together toward the end as it becomes apparent how all the stories are tied together. Each random act of selflessness, as the back cover says, links each story to another, and small choices on the behalf of one character lead to complete life change in many others.
It’s a beautiful story/stories, and I would highly, highly recommend it. I read the ARC, and it’ll be published in the U.S. in July.
What have you all been reading? I’m now currently slogging through Vilette, understanding more each chapter why Jane Eyre, not Villette, is the more well-known work…Charlotte, seriously, find an editor.