Essential Reading: June 2014
I am quite excited for June not only because it’s a brand new month but also because I’ll be reading in brand new place. Currently, I’m in LA, Raymond Chandler’s city. However, despite the newness of the month and the newness of the surroundings, I am quite worried because, in my experience, I barely get any reading done when I’m in the US so I have my fingers crossed right now.
Anyway, let’s look at the books I’ve read last May:
- If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino (3/5)
- Table for Two by Marla Miniano (2/5)
- The Athenian Murders by Jose Carlos Somoza (5/5)
- The Interpreter of Maladies by Jumpa Lahiri (5/5)
- Sad Comics for Dirty Lovers by Rob Cham (3/5)
- Abangan: The Best Philippine Komiks 2014 edited by Rob Cham, Adam David, Carljoe Javier, & Elbert Or (2/5)
- Frost/Nixon by Peter Morgan (4/5)
- To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (4/5)
To recap, let’s start with the lowest rated first. I didn’t like Marla Miniano’s writing because it seemed that she pulled every imaginable cliché from the romance handbook and, truth be told, every Filipino contemporary romance that I’ve read (that’s two plus one currently reading right now) are very clichéd. Abangan featured a lot of boring selections with only a few ones that made me hopeful on the future of Philippine komiks. Sad Comics for Dirty Lovers left me disappointed and a bad taste of pretentiousness in my mouth. Frost/Nixon has been elevated into one of the plays that I want to see in my lifetime. To The Lighthouse left me pensive about a lot of stuff and may be one of the most profound things I’ve read in my life. Although Jumpa Lahiri leaves Woolf in the dust with her painful stories about displacement. The Athenian Murders should not only be included in the pantheon of great crime fiction but also in the pantheon of great postmodernist works.
Anyway, here is what I have lined up for June:
- The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy – A story about a young American in Paris during the 1950s. The story, the cover, and the fact that it’s by NYRB had me curious. This is one of the first NYRBs that I bought when I was just starting my collection (which is now at about 40 NYRBs, I think).
- The Graveyard by Marek Hlasko – Written by Hlasko as a criticism of the Polish Communist Party, The Graveyard tells the story of a man who is thrown into the underworld of his country’s politics after insulting a police officer who took it as an insult against the state. The premise alone makes me want to dive into this book immediately.
- Spillway by Djuna Barnes – I discovered Djuna Barnes when I was checking out lists of arguably the most difficult books in literature and Barnes’ Nightwood almost always is a part of any list. However, I am not about to go off and discover an author by reading her most difficult work. So here I am with a slim collection filled with Barnes’ short fiction that should be easier to read than her masterpiece.
- Sylvia by Leonard Michaels – Over the course of one year, I have been finding copies of Leonard Michael’s works published under the FSG Classics imprint (two short novels, a short story collection, and an essay collection) and I thought that it may be a sign from the universe that I should familiarize with him soon. Thus I have included Sylvia in my reading list for June.
- Maximum Volume: The Best of Filipino Contemporary Fiction 2014 edited by Dean Francis Alfar and Angelo R. Lacuesta – I’m always wary whenever an anthology describes itself as the best among something since what is “best” is usually up for debate. However, since I’m a fan of Alfar and Lacuesta’s fiction, I’m going to approach this volume with eager but wary hands.
I am not very confident that I can finish all these books for June since I’m still reading Renata Adler’s Speedboat, Rosario Cruz0-Lucero’s La India, and Mina Esguerra’s Fairy Tale Fail. I am also going to read China Mieville’s The City and The City because it’s our book club’s pick for the month of June. However, the goal is not to finish all the books on the list but to read as much as I can without hurry. Whether I finish them all or not is irrelevant.