Essential Reading: October 2014
It’s a wonder that September flew by without me noticing. At the start of September, I was almost sure that I was going to finish the books that I lined up for September only to end the month with finishing just two, the shortest ones at that. However, I did end up reading two other books that were not on the list, Paul Auster’s Moon Palace and Adrian Tomine’s Summer Blonde. Anyway, here’s a recap:
- Two Crocodiles by Felisberto Hernandez and Fyodor Dostoevsky (4/5)
- Moon Palace by Paul Auster (4/5)
- Summer Blonde by Adrian Tomine (4/5)
- The Trouble With Poetry by Billy Collins (4/5)
Although the first part of Two Crocodiles, which was written by Dostoevsky, bored me and did not really wow me the way I expect it to, the 2nd part written by Felisberto Hernandez was one of the best short stories I’ve ever read. Moon Palace is probably the most human of Auster’s work yet still carries his trademark prose. Summer Blonde is certainly a good graphic novel that tells magnificent stories about loneliness and the human condition. I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed by Billy Collins since the first few poems were truly good but then it became repetitive and mediocre at intervals.
Anyway, here are the books I plan to read this October:
- Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau – This book has been screaming out to me whenever I pass by my closest approximation of a bookshelf. It’s not really surprising since I’m a sucker for writers and books who/that stretch the limits of fiction.
- The Whispering Muse by Sjon – After I’ve heard David Mitchell talk, I’ve grown a special fascination for what makes him tick both as a writer and as a person. I own some of the books that he has recommended but this is the only one that I have with me right now. It involves someone who’s looking into the influence of fish consumption on Nordic civilization, and the Greek hero Caeneus who regales his fellow passengers about his participation in the quest for the Golden Fleece.
- The Tenth Man by Graham Greene – It’s been a while since I’ve read The End of The Affair, which is one of my favorite novels of all-time, and I think it’s time for me to read another book by Greene. The Tenth Man is set during World War II in a German prison camp where our protagonist must do what he can to survive.
- The Verificationist by Donald Antrim – I’ve read some of Antrim’s stories and there’s something in his writing that makes me want to come back for more. With his full-length works, I want to start with the one introduced by George Saunders (he’s introduced by Jeffrey Eugenides in Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World and by Jonathan Franzen in The Hundred Brothers.)
- The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick by Peter Handke – I have always been curious with Peter Handke’s writing ever since The Marriage Plot featured his work, A Sorrow Beyond Dreams. Based on the descriptions from Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel, Handke is the kind of writer that I love to read. So I’m dipping my toes in the proverbial Handke waters by reading Handke’s chronicle of a former goalkeeper now construction worker’s descent into madness.
I know I’m being ambitious (again) with the list since I don’t think I will be able to finish all five books in a month but it’s nice to have something to aspire to.