Essential Reading: December 2014
I’ve been neglecting this blog for about a month now and I just came back to update my required reading for the last month of 2014. Of course, I’ll promise to write more posts for next year but we all know that my writing for this blog will be erratic at best. Anyway, let’s not get into my writing habits and focus instead on the books that I’ve read last month:
- Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion (5/5)
- Tenth of December by George Saunders (5/5)
- Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (4/5)
- Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan (4/5)
November was a good month with Didion exceeding my expectations for what is deemed as her masterpiece. Play It as It Lays is just a powerful piece of storytelling that proves that Didion is just as great with fiction as she is with nonfiction. While Tenth of December marks me as a completist of his short story collections with only two novellas and an essay collection left for me to read. I have now come to believe that Saunders’ short story collections should be read in chronological order because he gets better with each collection and you can actually see the evolution of his writing with every book. Revolutionary Road has somehow disappointed me because Yates writing didn’t quite match up to what I have read from reviews and from what I have heard from friends. Still, it was a very good book that has shown how painful and tragic it really is to be trapped in a loveless marriage. Sweet Tooth, on the other hand, has matched my expectations. I somehow judged, from its plot, that I would enjoy reading it and I did. I liked the literary allusions that were handled just right (Gabrielle Zevin can learn from this) and McEwan’s handling of the story itself.
As for my December reading, here they are:
- There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya – I’m almost finished with this book and I know that this wouldn’t be the last book by Petrushevskaya that I will read. In fact, I have already bought two of her other works, one is a short story collection and the other is a collection of three novellas. Her stories have a haunting quality to them and is often marked by an eerie atmosphere yet, in the end, there is hope. Somehow, she reminds me of Saunders even though their styles are completely different.
- The Lover by Marguerite Duras – A short novel that has been recommended to me by several literary websites that I follow and I am quite curious with its story about a French teenager falling in love with a wealthy businessman from China. This was one of the candidates for our book club’s book of the month for August but lost to Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying.
- The Mountain Lion by Jean Stafford – One of my good friends read this a few weeks back and he gave the book high praises so I decided to get my own copy as soon as possible so that I can read it. It’s the story between two siblings who grew up in a Los Angeles suburb who are suddenly relocated to a ranch in Colorado one summer.
- Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis – Arguably Martin Amis’ masterpiece, it tells the story of Dr. Tod T. Friendly in reverse chronological order. I wanted this to be my first Amis because it seems that the whole novel relies on its unconventional narrative device and, when such experimentation is done right, it can elevate a novel’s story to greater heights compared to when it is told in a straightforward manner.
- Missing Person by Patrick Modiano – The 2014 Nobel Laureate for Literature is someone that I have never heard of before the Swedish Academy’s announcement of the winner although he is said to be popular in his home country of France. Of course I wanted to acquaint myself with his works and Peter Englund, the Swedish Academy’s permanent secretary, has chosen Missing Person as the novel that should be read by someone who has never read Modiano before.
Aside from the new books that I will be reading this December, I’ll also be re-reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, one of my favorite novels of all-time. The reason I’m doing this is because Rhena is going to read it as her 100th book ever since signing up for a Goodreads account and I want to join her as she experiences this novel for the first time.
So that’s all for my December reading. What are you reading this month?