Just poking my head in here before I fly off to visit family elsewhere to say that while flying is fun, airplane trips across country are long, and books are wonderful. On this last flight there and back again, I read:
McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories edited by Michael Chabon. Quite an excellent collection of creepy stories in the Tales to Astonish/Twillight Zone vein. Daniel Handler’s contribution Delmonico is one of my favorites, which I’m sure comes as no surprise, but how can you not love a character who says “Time and time again I want to tell Davis that I love her, but she’s so smart there’s no way she hasn’t figured it out already” ?
I also especially liked China Mieville’s Reports of Certain Events in London about feral roads, and Roddy Doyle’s The Child.
Naked Pictures of Famous People by Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart is a funny funny man. This collection of essays (is it a collection if they were written specifically for this book? I don’t know.) tackles, as the title suggests, famous people. The pieces on vacationing with the Kennedys and on being a successful cult leader are especially funny, and my favorite is Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold, wherein a high school misfit looking to make a splash at his high school reunion finds out he’s not the only one.
The Complete Stories of Dorothy L. Sayers. Sayers is an incredible mystery writer, and these short stories are great. Her detectives are clever people who stumble into mysteries, and the solutions are always tricky but believable. I have to start on her huge backlist of novels now.
Current total: 114
Just Finished: The Complete Stories of Dorothy L. Sayers
Currently Reading: As we Remember Her by Carl Sferrazza Anthony
I just finished The Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai, which was a much appreciated Christmas gift. (Yes, I realize it’s not Christmas yet, some presents have to be opened early.) It was mailed to me by one Jamie Rich, but the wrapping itself said it was from Lance (from The Everlasting). I can see why Mr. Rich would like it, I can’t wait to see why Lance thought it important for me to read. (Yes, I am a big dork who gets over invested in characters, but HE started this one!)
The Setting Sun refers to the decline in the aristocratic class in Japan in the 1950s. The book follows the experience of Kazuko, a young aristocrat, her ailing mother, and dissolute brother as they attempt to transition between feudal and modern society, between the Japanese way and Westernization. A lot of time is covered in not a lot of space by the use of flashbacks and letters, to the point that now I can’t really say for certain what the time span of the book is, but that works since the family seems to be kind of suspended in time. The prose in translation reminds me somewhat of Hemingway, but there’s more symbolism, little happenings are given huge significance as they mirror and foreshadow the inevitable events of the story. It’s an excellent book and I need to read it again.
I’ve finished the proofing of the first draft of Cover Songs, so those of you who claim you want to read it will be getting your copies soon. Overall, I have to say I don’t think it’s too shabby for a first attempt at writing a novel. We’ll see if I feel the same after a little while of not reading it.
Coming soon: My Top Books of 2004! I know you’ll all be waiting on pins and needles for it, but really, why sit on pins? Choose a nice comfy chair and I’ll be there soon.
Current Total: 112
Just Finished: The Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai
I’m in the midst of proofreading Cover Songs and trying to determine if it really does suck- the verdict is still out- and I’m trying to get it done quickly so I can get to the highly anticipated sneaky early copy I have of Jamie Rich’s new novel that’s just sitting on my shelf mocking me with it’s lots of pages and prose that doesn’t suck, but in the meantime I couldn’t resist picking up Daniel Handler’s second book, Watch Your Mouth.
Now those of you who have been reading along know that I adore Mr. Handler for the Lemony Snickety goodness that he’s brought to the earth, and for his first novel The Basic Eight. Adore I say. Watch Your Mouth however kind of left me scratching my head. It’s full of the satire and references that make his other books great, but I’m not really sure what the overall point of it was. Parts of it are extremely graphic for seemingly no reason, and while the opera connections and spoof of twelve step programs were kind of interesting, I got to the end not understanding the reason for them. I had the same reaction watching The Road to Wellville earlier this week. It was an entertaining story, and it seemed to be trying to make a point, but what that point was was pretty murky.
Anyway, I still adore Mr. Handler, I just wish I knew what he was trying to do with this one.
Current Total: 111
Just Finished: Watch Your Mouth by Daniel Handler
Currently Reading: The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte