Today I finally finished Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. The thing about this book is that it’s deceptive in its “simplicity”–the language is fairly simple, each story (and the book itself actually) is short but it really does take you on a journey: it’s difficult to read in one sitting because there are so many details, so many fragments and so many ideas which it discusses–I felt like if I read it too fast I would forget a lot of the things worth remembering. So yeah. I took my precious time with this. It was worth it though. I finished it this afternoon and jeez. Calvino has this way of really fixating on a concept and being able to point out which parts are the most twisted–I really admire that. He’s able to take this thing which is supposedly “simple” (in this case, enumerating cities) and then he somehow performs a kind of verbal origami thing where he takes everything and folds it over and over and over and turns it inside out until you aren’t sure where you started or what you were thinking before you read it. Fak. I really really loved this. Sigh. Dog-eared to death.
I also finished The Mistress’s Daughter by AM Homes, who in my opinion is one of the best writers out there, today. Her stories are amazing–strange and real and an odd combination of viscerally painful and extremely contemplative (almost like there’s a hesitation to get attached, even if you are)–and so when I saw this in the 50% off table in Fully Booked, I had to get it. ( I have to thank my lovely boyfriend for fronting me the dough–thank you, Keav!)
This is her memoir. I don’t want to say anymore because really, it’s told so well I don’t think I could even attempt to “summarize” it. I’ve never found a piece of non-fiction so compelling. AM Homes (or well, AM Homes as far as I can tell from this book) has a mind that is both morbidly curious about people and extremely vulnerable. She, too is able to do wonders with her ability to fixate on something. Shit. So good. It’s funny that I finished this on the same day as Invisible Cities because this I sped through like nobody’s business–I just needed to know more, more, more. Fuck. If you like being caught off guard and having your heard torn to shreds, you’ll love this book. The crazy thing about it is that the thing which hurt me is that it ends on a hopeful note; it broke my heart that it didn’t end broken. Does that make sense? GAH. I still have a literary hang over from this. :< This was good. So, so good.
My resolution for this year is to read a variety of forms per month. I think it’s important to go out of your comfort zone (although I don’t think there’s anything wrong with liking your comfort zone, either–you like what you like) and explore new things–if not to find new things to like, then at least to know what you don’t like.
This month, I’m going to be reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (as recommended by my friend Ron) and Farther Away by Jonathan
Strange Franzen (as recommended by my friend Trizha). I already read two essays from the latter and despite people always making fun of Franzen I stand by my opinion that I think he’s a decent writer and that even if his fiction is “conventional” or “straight forward”, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. SO, yes. I will probably have to alternate these though or read them for two weeks each because ain’t no way I’m lugging both to the office.
I solemnly swore that I would buy myself a book (or five) every pay day. So this month I got the Susanna Clarke one (which I’ll talk more about in another blog post) AND this baby down here: Siri Hustvedt’s newest book, The Blazing World. I’ve been a huge fan of Siri Hustvedt’s since 2007 when I stole What I Loved from my sister. I find that she (Siri H. , not my sister hahaha) has this incredible ability to tie art, psychology, science, creepy dolls and fairytales together so well. Crazy! Although admittedly, I didn’t enjoy her last novel (Sorrows of an American) as much I’m still excited to read this!!! It’s about art and murder–I will tell ya’ll how it goes. Although it is likely I will finish this by mid-April pa.
(Side note: I think maybe I didn’t enjoy Sorrows of An American so much because well duh, it dealt mostly with the struggle of dealing with being American with euro/jewish roots–this was also touched on in What I Loved but only tangentially–and I have difficulty relating to things which “get to the point” so directly. Hrrrm. Strange. )
So, there. That’s what’s on the reading list/book report (HAHA) for this/last month. 😀