Read in July 2011

1. Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems, by Diane di Prima
Wild and thought-provoking, a strange simultaneity of squalor and loveliness.

2. The Water Tower, by Gary Crew
WHOA strange and freaky-deaky story in a unique picture book layout. It took me several read-throughs to decide what I thought it was about/what had happened. The plot is enigmatic and quiet, but very creepy.

3. Veronika Decides to Die, by Paulo Coelho
I thought from the beginning that I would really like this book, but I found it tiresome. It questions our ideas of sanity/insanity in a very cliché way; it has this gimmicky and unsurprising little twist at the end; also, the turning point in the character's inner journey is this absurd exhibitionist masturbation scene. Oh, and that quasi-inspiring IMAGINE IF YOU HAD ONLY A WEEK TO LIVE, HOW WOULD YOU LIVE? premise. Blah. It reads like an early draft.

4. Eurydice, by Sarah Ruhl
Quirky and poetic. See it on stage if you ever get the chance. I saw it in February at my college and it kind of devastated me.

5. Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, by Lewis Carroll
I don't know how to appreciate this, or Alice. Not saying there's nothing to appreciate about them; I just, ah, have no idea.

6. The Will to Change: Poems 1968-1970, by Adrienne Rich

7. Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth: Poems 2004-2006, by Adrienne Rich

8. Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, by William Styron
This was quite dark, and it could be very triggering to people with depressive tendencies.  For some reason it was just what I needed, though — a reminder that when I'm facing depression, it is real and serious and urgent, and something that a lot of other humans are encountering too. This is a cliché but I mean it: if you haven't experienced depression, reading this book is the closest you can come to understanding what it is like. I recommend it for that reason.

9. Three Guineas, by Virginia Woolf
She is so freaking smart. It felt like work to read this, but the text is its own reward. Sharp sharp sharp, sarcastic, stimulating. Nonfiction: musings on capitalism (wage labor), war, and the place of women in her society, especially middle-class women in Western societies.

10. Traveling Light: Poems, by Linda Pastan
Have a taste for yourself, here.


Noël De Vries 9/13/2011 7:42 PM  

Speaking of Woolf, I read a tres interesting piece this week, "From Clapham to Bloomsbury: a genealogy of morals" on the failure of the 19th century Evangelical movement to engage with the intellectual challenges to Christian faith, and the resultant loss of faith of many of their children and grandchildren, specifically William Wilberforce's set and Woolf's Bloomsbury set.

Thought of you as I read. It had the savor of something you might enjoy indulging with an academic eye.

Jenica 9/13/2011 8:53 PM  

If "Alice" is hard to get, "Looking Glass" is even worse. They made me laugh but left me feeling like I was missing the something that makes people love them.

faith 9/13/2011 11:46 PM  

Number eight is on my to-read list; partly because the title caught my eye a while back, being one of my favorite quotes, although I feel a little odd calling a quote so hopeless a "favorite" of mine.

Beth Kephart 9/14/2011 7:15 AM  

I love Linda Pastan as a person and as a poet.

I send you love as this school year begins.

sui 9/14/2011 2:02 PM  

I didn't really like Veronika decides to die either. Still need to read the alchemist.

Holly 9/18/2011 10:25 AM  

Noël - I must read it then. Thank you for mentioning it.

Jenica - As I recall, though, Alice had a much less coherent plot...the scenes seemed to succeed each other almost without order/progression.

faith - Quite dark, as I said...pick a time when you have a lot of helium in your spirits. You know, I didn't realize the title was a quote, but now I know. You've read Paradise Lost?

Beth - You know her! That is so cool. Going from her poemed life, I can DEFINITELY see you getting along. That's so lovely. And thank you! My love back.

sui - I bet you get that book recommended to you often, hm. Granted, I read it when I was fourteen, but I quite liked it.

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