Even though self suspended her subscription to the NYTBR, she still has a pile of back issues to get through.
Perusing the 15 January 2014 issue, self sees that NYTBR editors have not lost any of their interest in Russia or its writers: There are reviews of a new novel by Lara Vapnyar (partly about a Soviet youth camp), as well as a translation of Michael Shishkin (famous in Russia).
In the By the Book interview, Sue Monk Kidd named the following as “books with spiritual themes”: Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson; The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver; The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy; and Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton. Asked which books “we all should read before dying,” she responds with: Night, by Elie Wiesel, What is God? by Jacob Needham, and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Self finds herself skipping over several reviews, for several reasons, one of them being that when a reviewer describes a novel’s main character as “beleaguered,” self quickly loses interest. Also, right now, self has no interest in reading books about “ornery old men” who drink and smoke themselves “to death” because she doesn’t consider either of these activities even remotely tempting.
She is interested in the books Sue Monk Kidd is “reading these days”: Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter, Dear Life, by Alice Munro, Sister Mother Husband Dog, by Delia Ephron, and Edith Wharton’s Three Novels of New York: The House of Mirth, The Custom of the Country, and The Age of Innocence.
Self loves discovering new women writers, and this issue of the NYTBR introduces her to Elizabeth Spencer (“Spencer’s great gift is her ability to take ordinariness and turn it inside out, to find focus in a muddle.”)
She also loves Diane Johnson, who happens to have written a memoir (Flyover Lives: A Memoir).
Having come — finally! — to the end of this post, self realizes that blogging about The New York Times Book Review is an exceedingly intricate and time-consuming activity, because it involves making a list, and a list involves — naturally — exclusion, which then causes her Catholic guilt to rear its annoying head.
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.