Monday, September 28, 2009

It's Banned Books Week. I guess this means we all get to pick some books and ban them? Cool, alright, then, I ban Wuthering Heights, because that book is terrible. What are you banning to celebrate this national time of literary cleansing?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Issue number two of The Collagist, the online literary journal from Dzanc Books, just went live. It includes, in there amongst a lot of other stuff you and I both need to check out, my review of Some Things That Meant the World to Me by Joshua Mohr, which begins like so:

Joshua Mohr’s debut novel, Some Things That Meant the World to Me, is where Michael Gondry would go if he went down a few too many miles of bad desert road. Replace the director’s Science of Sleep-style clouds-of-cotton whimsy with harsh whiskey and hot sand and you get a sense for the dark world Mohr constructs. Dark, yet not pitch black: he pits his vision of ugly realities against one of basic human kindness. It is this tension that gives his engaging novel its emotional power.

Part of me is like, I should be all professional-chill about this, but, whatever: the book excites me and writing about it excited me and The Collagist excites me and being a part of it excites me and yeah.

(Meanwhile, in totally unprofessional shameless fanboy eyes-gaping "If you had told me that one day I would see..." news, if you had told me that one day I would see my name just below Elizabeth Crane's name on a contributors' notes page...)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Lydia Kiesling likes Kazuo Ishiguro.
So: I just read this novel (I'll tell you about it someday) (an actual, as opposed to a typical, promise) that left me...less than pleased. Significantly unentertained, let's call it. This seems to be a theme, not for everything I read (obvs), just, rather, for enough stuff, just enough to be disconcerting.

Anyways, it seems like a fine time to take a brief break from novels. Ish. Sort of. I'm about to start a graphic novel, actually. (Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchell, for those of you keeping score.) (I've also got a couple manga-ish things on my coffee table that I picked up a couple optimistic trips to the library ago. We'll see how that pans out.)

I've also got an advance of the new Alice Munro short story collection, Too Much Happiness, in one of these piles (put there solely as an accidental casualty of the war the various bags I drag back and forth and up and down this city have been conducting on my left shoulder of late), which I just started a few weeks ago, and I liked the first two stories, though I could in fact not yet tell you why. It is--and I say this in the tone of one who realizes that in some circles this may be considered rather outré--my first experience with Munro. I'm possibly maybe a couple stories away just yet from having that sort of weird revelatory experience I had when I finished either Interstate or Frog by Stephen Dixon and I realized how much stuff there was of his to go find and read (and, incidentally, I just read the opening chapter of his post-Frog opus 30 recently, and, I guess I've taken enough of a bit of a break from him by this point that reading that made me want to read the whole rest of the book right then and there?) but I can certainly see how the impulse might be there.

And also in the coming weeks, in the hours that remain between freaking out about this project and freaking out about that project, I'm going to be offering some thoughts on Don Watson's American Journeys, American Journeys being the sort of book they call "non-fiction" and Don Watson being the sort of chap they call "Australian," both of which are things not typically found in my living room, so. I'm reading the book as part of this effort and I know the effort calls for a review post but I think it's going to hard to talk about a book about journeying without doing a little meandering. Should be fun.

(And then once I get through this stuff and the other stuff and some things I'm blowing off fucking everything and I'm reading Dan Chaon's Await Your Reply and it's going to be great and will leave me feeling highly entertained, I think, based on all I've heard to date. So!)