Embarrassment of Riches: NYTBR, 18 September 2011

Here, dear blog readers, are the reviews self feels like saving after perusing the 18 September 2011 issue of The New York Times Book Review.  There are quite a number!

  1. Susann Cokal’s review of Leah Hager Cohen’s fourth novel, The Grief of Read the rest of this entry »

NYTBR 29 August 2010: Books Self Is Interested in Reading

In the same way that self doesn’t know where the summer has gone, she also doesn’t know where her copies of The New York Times Book Review have gone.  One minute, they were piling up in a corner, full of silent reproach.  Next, after emptying all her various piles of stuff, she can only unearth one issue, that of 29  August 2010.

But, anyhoo, that means less work for self!

Here are the books self is interested in reading after perusing the 29 August 2010 issue:

After reading George Johnson’s review of Craig Childs’ Finders Keepers:  A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession, about the discovery of the Anasazi ruins in what is now Mesa Verde National Park:

After reading Elisabeth Eaves’ review of Rachel Shukert’s Everything is Going to be Great:  An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour:

  • David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day

After reading Terrence Rafferty’s review of Shirley Jackson:  Novels and Stories, edited by Joyce Carol Oates:

  • Shirley Jackson:  Novels and Stories

After reading Lorraine Adams’ (not uncritical) review of Nadifa Mohamed’s novel, Black Mamba Boy:

  • Nuruddin Farah’s 1968 novel, From a Crooked Rib
  • Nadifa Mohamed’s Black Mamba Boy

After reading Tara McKelvey’s review of Alex Heard’s The Eyes of Willie McGee: A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South:

  • Alex Heard’s The Eyes of Willie McGee: A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South
  • Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Trying to Read Claire Tomalin’s THOMAS HARDY

Self never realized that writing a novel would be such a bear. She just doesn’t know how people do it. She read somewhere that it took Sarah Waters four years to write The Night Watch. Four years! For the past several weeks — no, months — she’s been going at it, with the consequence that she’s spent hours and hours at her computer, and her right wrist feels stiff by the end of the day, and she’s taken to snacking. Yes, snacking. Which means that her jeans are now woefully tight. Every time self gets to a part of her novel where some of her characters are eating, she just can’t help stopping and googling delicious Filipino food that she remembers eating as a child. For instance, embutido. Or rellenong bangus. Or halo-halo. Which then has the predictable result of making self hungry. She wanders to her fridge — hence, the snacking.

(Self, what’s with all the ruminations? Can’cha just get to it???)

Anyhoo, self decided to try and finish Claire Tomalin’s Thomas Hardy. It’s too bad that this biography in no way excites her the way Tomalin’s writing excited her when she read Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (She read it on the plane to Berlin, five years ago. And, even with all the distractions of finding herself in that tremendous city, self continued to read it. That’s how riveting the book was).

(So then why, self, why are you making yourself finish this book? Yoo Hoo! Life is short!)

The reason self is making herself continue the Hardy biography is that Hardy was, of course, a novelist. And he struggled mighty hard to get his first novels published. And then, he was lashed with some not altogether flattering reviews of his first published work. And it wasn’t as if he was getting tons of moral support. Here’s how Thomas Mallon describes Hardy’s first wife, Emma, in a review in The New York Times Book Review:

Emma’s liveliness and complicated nature had made her, early on, a kind of muse and “mine” — Hardy’s own word — of material, but her own frustrated desire to write left her jealous of her husband’s success and even of his heroines. Annoyed by her habit of referring to “our books,” Hardy worked hard at being both loyal and oblivious to her.

In the part self is reading, covering the years 1867 – 1874 (It is so strange to read about someone’s life being segmented into seven-year stretches, as if everything were so neat and fell naturally into a pattern), Hardy is writing Under the Greenwood Tree, regarding which Emma “claimed in later years that she helped and advised Hardy with his writing, while he insisted that her help was pretty well confined to making fair copies … ”

And — and …

It suddenly occurs to self that if she were not trying to write a novel, she would be agonizing over something else, like bills. Or trying to make something complicated in the kitchen. Or exerting herself to get new plants into her garden. Something like that.

Well, in that case, she isn’t spending her time too badly, by trying to write a novel! Even if it turns out to be a bad one!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

New York Times Book Review, 30 May 2010: A Semi-Short List

Books self is interested in reading after perusing The New York Times Book Review of 30 May 2010:

  • After reading David Kamp’s review of the final installment of Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest:

All the books in the trilogy:  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, in the new translation by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier

  • After reading Andrew Ervin’s review of Julie Orringer’s novel, The Invisible Bridge:

Julie Orringer’s story collection, How to Breathe Underwater

David Foster Wallace’s “dense, challenging, wildly satiric, at times profoundly sad and gruesome 1,079-page novel,” Infinite Jest

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Nomad:  From Islam to America:  A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations

  • After reading Geoff Nicholson’s end-paper essay, “A Matter of Fact,” about reference books:

The Guinness Book of Records (any year)

NY Times Book Review, 6 June 2010: Because Self is So Shallow

Because self is so shallow, self only picked books she was interested in reading (and that probably 75% of her acquaintances would not be interested in reading).  Herewith, books self is interested in reading after perusing her brother-in-law’s copy of The New York Times book Review of 6 June 2010:

After reading Jay McInerney’s review of Ann Beattie’s new novel, Talks With Men:

  • Ann Beattie’s new novel, Talks With Men

After reading Alida Becker’s review of a crop of new Travel Books:

NYTBR 23 May 2010: Books Self Is Interested in Reading

Here are the books self is interested in reading after perusing The New York Times Book Review of 23 May 2010:

    Deborah L. Rhode’s The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law
  • After reading Robin Romm’s review of A. L. Kennedy’s new book, What Becomes: Stories:
    A. L. Kennedy’s new book, What Becomes: Stories
  • After reading Marilyn Stasio’s “Crime” column:

NYTBR 25 April 2010: Biography of Muriel Spark, New Crime Books

Books self is interested in reading after perusing the 25 April 2010 issue of The New York Times Book Review:

(1) After reading Charles McGrath’s review of Martin Stannard’s Muriel Spark: The Biography:

  • Martin Stannard’s Muriel Spark: The Biography
  • Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

(2) After reading Jacob Silverman’s review of Brad Watson’s new book Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives: Stories:

  • Brad Watson’s 2002 novel, a finalist for the National Book Award, The Heaven of Mercury
  • Brad Watson’s new book Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives: Stories

(3) After reading Marilyn Stasio’s “Crime” column, the following mysteries  (4 of 4, a record):

  • Jesse Kellerman’s “stunning” The Executor
  • Ariana Franklin’s A Murderous Procession
  • Declan Hughes’ City of Lost Girls, whose hero, the private eye Ed Loy, “has a strong work ethic, doesn’t take himself too seriously and has the wit to appreciate a good comic-book store.”
  • Peter May’s Freeze Frame, which brings the reader “back to the golden age of detective fiction, when stout men in club chairs puffed on after-dinner cigars as they pondered brain-teasing puzzles involving timetables and exotic poisons.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Today, Third Sunday in April 2010: Three-Hour Nap, Still Reading Shteyngart, NYTBR 4 April 2010

Today, self had to go to the City (Car held up —  hooray!  Also, it was not raining).

Afterwards, she thought she’d curl up on the couch while hubby watched his sports games.  She’d hardly been sitting for five minutes when her eyes began to close.  Then she had a dream of kicking the older dog, Bella, for eating some plants (This was a dream that most decidedly derived from real life).  Several times, she was aware of hubby standing in front of her supine form and jumping up and down.  Or slamming the door, VERY LOUD.  Or of the dogs whimpering at her feet.  Licking her hands (with their snouts that are usually buried in doo doo).  Finally, after all these importunings, self woke up.  She’d been asleep FOR THREE HOURS.  It was 8 pm, and starting to get dark.

Up she jumped, and proceeded to cook hubby a wonderful meal of ground meat torta (Even though she noticed that he’d already had popcorn, hotdog, and what have you, judging from the mess in the kitchen).

Then she checked in on her on-line class.  Then she fed the dogs.  Then she checked her e-mail and there was nothing.  From anyone.  Then she turned to her Shteyngart book.  And there is an OMG hilarious letter from his Brooklyn lady-love, who dumps him (having met a new man:  Her Creative Writing Professor at Hunter College)

He says that …  you always viewed me from the Position of a Colonialist Oppressor.  You always secretly look down at me.  I tried to talk to you so many times about my Writing when I was in russia but you never seemed to listen.  Its always you you you.  Your ignoring me just like my family and that’s going to hurt my self as-team.  Also Proffessor Shteynfarb said its wrong when you throw your shoe at your servant (I’m sorry, but I think that’s true).  Also he says its wrong when you an your friend alosha try to do your rapping and pretend your from the ghetto because thats also being a Colonialist.  He gave me a book by Edward Said, which is super hard, but its worth it.

Then tomorrow self will pay her Verizon bill, which thank God she still has the funds for.  In the meantime, here’s the list of the books self is interested in reading after perusing the 10 April 2010 issue of The New York Times Book Review:

1.    After reading Tracy Lee Simmons’ fascinating review of Duane W. Roller’s Cleopatra:  A Biography:

Duane W. Roller’s Cleopatra:  A Biography

2. After reading Cathleen Medwick’s review of Fernanda Eberstadt’s new novel, Rat:

Fernanda Eberstadt’s new novel, Rat

3. After reading Andrea Wulf’s entertaining review of Chloe Schama’s Wild Romance: A Victorian Story of a Marriage, a Trial and a Self-Made Woman:

Chloe Schama’s Wild Romance: A Victorian Story of a Marriage, a Trial and a Self-Made Woman

4. After reading Polly Morrice’s review of Siri Huvstedt’s The Shaking Woman: Or, A History of My Nerves:

Siri Huvstedt’s The Shaking Woman: Or, A History of My Nerves

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

NYTBR 28 March 2010: A Short List

Here are the books self is interested in reading after perusing The New York Times Book Review of 28 March 2010:

1.    After reading Pamela Paul’s review of Laurie Abraham’s The Husbands and Wives Club:  A Year in the Life of a Couples Therapy Group:

  • Laurie Abraham’s The Husbands and Wives Club:  A Year in the Life of a Couples Therapy Group

2.   After reading Malena Watrous’ review of Gabrielle Zevin’s novel, The Hole We’re In:

  • Gabrielle Zevin’s The Hole We’re In

3.    After reading Jane and Michael Stern’s review of Stephen Fried’s Appetite for America:  How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West:

  • Stephen Fried’s Appetite for America:  How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West

4.   After reading Marilyn Stasio’s “Crime” column, the following mysteries:

  • Denise Mina’s Glasgow-set Still Midnight
  • Cornelia Read’s latest thriller featuring Madeline Dare, a “renegade socialite from Oyster Bay, Long Island,” Invisible Boy

The End!

Backwards: NYTBR 28 February 2010

Self’s “pile of stuff” is all mixed up! Last week she posted about the 14 March New York Times Book Review, and now she’s posting about an issue two weeks before that. You’re a mess, self! A real mess!

Anyhoo, here are the books self is interested in reading (if she ever lives long enough) after perusing the 28 February 2010 issue of The New York Times Book Review:

1.    After reading Alida Becker’s review of Peter Hessler’s new book,Country Driving: A Journey Through China

2.    After reading Robin D. G. Kelley’s review of Nadine Cohodas’ biography of the singer Nina Simone, Princess Noire:

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