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random library books before dance club (edited)

We have to go to dance club in a few minutes. We love it, we do, but we're not really into it today. Sadly, we've already used the "sick" excuse to violate the 24-hour cancellation policy -- so we have to go. Christopher has a fractured coccyx (which is painful and sucks, but isn't as bad as it could be apparently) and understandably doesn't much feel like it tonight. I'm just kind of tired and don't feel so hot. But Christopher also reminded me that I promised some sort of nonlink-to-others type post.

So, I figured I'd post the last few books I picked up randomly from the library and what I'm reading and ask what you lot are reading. I've been digging books found on recommendations and is there anything more fun than knowing the nonintimate contents of someone else's bedside reading table? (Well, yeah, lots of things, but it is fun.) Here goes:

-- Honored Guest: Stories, Joy Williams: I've been meaning to pick this up for ages, but Williams came up in conversation last night a the post-writing group drinks at a round table and I was reminded. Ran my fingers along the spines of the not brand-spanking-new but newish bookshelves on the first floor of the library and pulled out this neat little volume with its simple, beautiful cover featuring a little black bird perched on a hand. I've read only the title story so far, about a dying mother and her struggling daughter, and if you've never read Williams (or you have, but just not this), recommend you do what you can to get a copy in your hot little hands. A snippet:

At the beginning, death was giving htem the opportunity to be interesting. This was something special. There was only one crack at this. But then they lost sight of it somehow. It became a lesser thing, more terrible. Its meaning crumbled. They began waiting for it. Terrible, terrible.

-- Our Ecstatic Days, Steve Erickson: This is the one I'm really reading first. And I didn't chose it randomly, but thought I'd throw it in anyway.

-- Best New American Voices 2005: The FInest Writing Emerging From The Top WRiting Programs and Workshops, edited by Francine Prose (John Kulka and Natalie Danford, series editors, or the ones who actually winnow down the massive pile of stories): This I picked up because I'm a skeptic, but one who wants you to convince me, at lesat a little. Do I think this will be the finest writing emerging? Well, no. But I'm hoping something will surprise me. (I read half the first story already -- a portrait of a Mississipi funeral that pits headbanging motorcyclists against traditional southerners, which seems a little longish, but maybe I was just sleepy. I'll give it another shot.)

Change of heart (update): Finished that story and it turned out I was just sleepy -- it's an excellent story, which avoids sentimentality like fire and captures its characters perfectly. Although I would have liked one brief, clear glimpse of the making of the rock video at the funeral, not in retrospect.

-- Lux, Maria Flook: Frankly, I think Maria Flook is an awesome name. This book came loaded with blurbs and, also frankly, had a pleasing size and heft. The beauty of the library is there's no commitment, but I have high hopes for this one.

-- Mercy, Alissa York: A critic's comparison to Ann-Marie MacDonald's beautiful and depressing Fall on Your Knees (but saying this book is better) caught my eye. I'm in the mood for something with a little sweep and some cheek. Seemed a good bet.

-- The First Female Stars: Women of the Silent Era, David W. Menefee: Looks academic, but you never know. By a journalist. Oops, just looked at the acknowledgements ("First and foremost, to my faith in Jesus Christ, without whom nothing would be possible.") You're going straight back to the library with only a cursory flip through unless you are the best. book. ever.

-- Now you. And I mean it this time. (Too lazy to link these, that's what's google's for.)

(And wow, great phone call with exciting news from friends, that _most_ of you don't know, but I can't tell, not for a while! Must go! Skipping dance lessons because I'm not going to make Christopher dance while his coccyx screams!)


  • At 10:14 PM , Blogger Chris McLaren said...

    Currently working on:

    My downstairs book is Jazz in the bittersweet blues of life. It's a loaner from a friend in town. It's kind of road journalism--writer travels with jazz performer and writes road stories that are jazz.

    My upstairs book is Player Of Games, which is the second Culture novel by Iain Banks. I've read a lot of his other stuff, but I am just recently come to the Culture novels, and am enjoying them.

    Oh, and I still have Sy Hersh's Chain of Command in the upstairs washroom, although my depression about the Bush reelection has kept me from reading it as much as I should.


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