Interperter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Lahiri has a serious gift for telling a story with elegance and wisdom. Interpreter of Maladies is a collection of nine short stories, each with a focus on Indian culture and what it means to be a foreigner. Normally I'm not a big fan of short story collections, but after I read The Namesake I wanted to explore more of Lahiri's works. I was not disappointed. Each story details the immigrant experience in a unique way. Among my favorites were "A Temporary Matter," "Interpreter of Maladies,""Sexy," "Mrs. Sen's" and "The Treatment of Bibi Haldar".

While each story can stand alone and depicts different view of the Indian American, they also work well in a collection as they are strongly connected in themes and motifs. Lahiri examines the subject of an immigrants identity in terms of it's mutability and disconnectedness; can an immigrant maintain his or her cultural identity while also adapting to their new, foreign lives? And if so, to what extent does this involve resistance to their new life, and at what cost? Is the formation of multiple identities, or even broken identities, worth the struggle?
While astronauts, heros forever, spent mere hours on the moon, I have remained in this new world for nearly thirty years. I know that my acheivement is quite ordinary. I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from home and I am certainly not the first. Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.
The stories in Lahiri's collection are both eye-opening and heartbreaking. I'd recommended this book to anyone interested in gaining a greater understanding of today's immigrant experience. Interpreter of Maladies won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2000.

Publisher: Mariner Books, 1999


Happy Birthday, Nabokov

"Let all of life be an unfettered howl. Like the crowd greeting the gladiator. Don't stop to think, don't interrupt the scream, exhale, release life's rapture. Everything is blooming. Everything is flying. Everything is screaming, choking on its screams. Laughter. Running. Let-down hair. That is all there is to life." -Vladamir Nabokov


Four Things

Karen at Books and Chocolate posted this meme earlier this morning and I thought it would be fun to try (with collages because I have that much time on my hands)!

Four jobs I've had in my life:
1. Starbucks Barista
2. Security Guard (really)
3. Publishing intern
4. Administrative Assistant

Four books I would read over and over again:
1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
2. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
3. Lolita by Vladamir Nabokov
3. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Four places I have lived:
1. Madison, Wisconsin
2. Hermosa Beach, California
3. New York, New York
4. Paris, France (for a summer)

Four books I would recommended:
1. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
2. Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
3. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
4. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Four Places I have been:
1. Florence, Italy
2. Bridgetown, Barbados
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
4. London, England

Four of my favorite foods:
1. eggplant
2. sushi
3. caprese salad
4. curry

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Bloomington, IN
2. Hermosa Beach, CA
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
4. Washington DC

Four of my favorite drinks:
1. macchiato
2. Stella Artois
3. dirty martini
4. double tall soy latte

Four things people that are very special in my life:
1. my sister Melanie
2. my mother
3. my best friend Mary
4. my 6-year-old niece Tara

Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola

I enjoyed Thérèse Raquin much more than I thought I would. This was my first Zola and I was prepared for long, drawn-out prose and perhaps a less-than-exciting, 19th century plot. It was a nice surprise that this book turned out to be wonderfully creepy and suspenseful (save the somewhat slow start). The direct prose read quickly and while the translation didn't give the text much richness, I'm wondering what Zola's unaltered French prose was like. 

My first thought upon completing this book: It would be perfect to read around Halloween, specifically for the RIP challenge. It's a story of twisted, turbulent, tormented love at it's finest. The cover art really speaks toward the content. 
These sudden, alternating sensations of desire and disgust, the successive touch of flesh burning with love and of cold flesh softened by the mud, made him pant and shudder, gasping in horror. 
Thérèse Raquin is a work of naturalist fiction in which Zola uses a detached tone to study the animal-like lovers Thérèse and Laurent after they murder for the sake of their love, only to become painfully haunted by their actions. Thérèse Raquin examines human instinct, dark passion and moral decline and explores the free will of the "human animal". It's both erotic and meticulously detached, and all-in-all, shocking. 

Publisher: Penguin Classics, 1867


Top Ten Favorite Book Quotes

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by
The Broke and the Bookish. This week is a rewind, a chance to go back through the archives and pick a Top Ten topic you missed. I'm not sure how I missed favorite book quotes, but here they are. It was hard for me to narrow them down to ten, but I did my best:

1. "We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappointment between breakfast and dinner-time; keep back the tears and look a little pale about the lips, and in answer to inquiries say 'Oh Nothing!'" - George Eliot, Middlemarch

2. "Sometimes I imagined stitching all of our little touches together. How many hundreds of thousands of fingers brushing against each other does it take to make love?" - Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

3. "I believe that theres is one story in the world, and only one... Humans are caught - in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too - in a net of good and evil... there is no other story." - John Steinbeck, East of Eden

4. "No matter how much you know, no matter how much you think, no matter how much you plot and connive and you plan, you're not superior to sex. It's a very risky game. A man wouldn't have two-thirds of the problems he has if he didn't venture off to get fucked. It's sex that disorders our normally ordered lives." - Philip Roth, The Dying Animal

5. "and I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse perhaps to be locked in." -Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

6. "sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living." - Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

7. "I am, to be blunt and concise, in love only with myself, my puny being with its small inadequate breasts and meager, thin talents. I am capable of affection for those who reflect my own world." - Sylvia Plath, The Journals of Sylvia Plath

8. "Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering." - Nichole Krauss, The History of Love

9. "Love blurs your vision; but after it recedes, you can see more clearly than ever. It's like the tide going out, revealing whatever's been thrown away and sunk: broken bottles, old gloves, rusting pop cans, nibbled fishbodies, bones. This is the kind of thing you see if you sit in the darkness with open eyes, not knowing the future. The ruin you've made." - Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye

10. "Some of us look for the way in opium and some in God, some of us in whisky and some of us in love. It is all the same way and it leads nowhither." - W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil


Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

This was my first Murakami and after Ben from Dead End Follies told me Norwegian Wood was a good place to start with this author, I jumped right in. Now I know what all the fuss is about. I enjoyed this novel more than any other book I have read this year. I was worried the novel would be extremely complex, but it's actually quite straightforward and accessible.

Norwegian Wood introduces us to Toru Watanabe, a man who recalls his freshman year of college in Tokyo when he hears The Beatles song Norwegian Wood on a plane; a year filled with complicated relationships and psychological instability, a year he experienced feelings "he would never know again".

On the surface Norwegian Wood is a love story, a very organic one at that. Put simply, Toru is caught between two women; one of his past that remains in his present, and one that can propell him into the future:
I have always loved Naoko, and I still love her. But there is a decisive finality to what exists between Midori and me. It has an irresistible power that is bound to sweep me into the future. What I feel for Naoko is a tremendously quiet and gentle and transparent love, but what I feel for Midori is a wholly different emotion. It stands and walks on its own, living and breathing and throbbing and shaking me to the roots of my being.
But it's really much more than just a love story. It's about memory and the memory of love, and how it stays with us even when the one we love is gone. It's about coping with death and sorrow, and understanding life while trying to find your place in this imperfect the world. It's about loneliness and isolation and the innate human desire to form unique relationships.
Sometimes I feel like a caretaker of a museum - a huge empty museum where no one ever comes, and I'm watching over it for no one but myself.
A high-five goes to Ben for this one - a remarkably inimitable read.

Publisher: Vintage International, 1987
Translated by Jay Rubin


New Books!

Zadie Smith - On Beauty: This will be my first Zadie Smith, and I couldn't pass up this beautiful hardcover edition for $8.

Colm Toibin - Brooklyn: I've had this on my TBR list for awhile and finally tracked it down (half-price of course).

Margaret Atwood - Surfacing: I'm slowly making my way through Atwood's works of fiction. This is her second novel after The Edible Woman and as part detective novel, part psychological triller it sounds unlike anything else I've read from her so far.


National Poetry Month: Elizabeth Bishop

April is national poetry month and as I mentioned last week when I highlighted e.e. cummings, I don't discuss enough poetry. In an effort to change that, I am highlighting one of my favorite poets once a week for the month of April. This week goes to Elizabeth Bishop, who received the National Book Award in poetry for her collection The Complete Poems.

As an avid traveler, Bishop includes descriptions of the physical world with subtle and meaningful prose. Her poems relate her connection with the outside world and her struggle to find a place within it. A careful and precise writer, Bishop only published 101 poems in her lifetime, choosing to refine them to their fullest rather than write and publish them in haste. Bishop focuses on themes of isolation and longing in her work, ideas that she mastered in her popular poem "One Art".

If you aren't familiar with Bishop, I suggest you read The Complete Poems, where you will find my favorite poem of hers, "Questions of Travel":

There are too many waterfalls here; the crowded streams
hurry too rapidly down to the sea,
and the pressure of so many clouds on the mountaintops
makes them spill over the sides in soft slow-motion,
turning to waterfalls under our very eyes.
--For if those streaks, those mile-long, shiny, tearstains,
aren't waterfalls yet,
in a quick age or so, as ages go here,
they probably will be.
But if the streams and clouds keep travelling, travelling,
the mountains look like the hulls of capsized ships,
slime-hung and barnacled.

Think of the long trip home.
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today?
Is it right to be watching strangers in a play
in this strangest of theatres?
What childishness is it that while there's a breath of life
in our bodies, we are determined to rush
to see the sun the other way around?
The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?
To stare at some inexplicable old stonework,
inexplicable and impenetrable,
at any view,
instantly seen and always, always delightful?
Oh, must we dream our dreams
and have them, too?
And have we room
for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?

But surely it would have been a pity
not to have seen the trees along this road,
really exaggerated in their beauty,
not to have seen them gesturing
like noble pantomimists, robed in pink.
--Not to have had to stop for gas and heard
the sad, two-noted, wooden tune
of disparate wooden clogs
carelessly clacking over
a grease-stained filling-station floor.
(In another country the clogs would all be tested.
Each pair there would have identical pitch.)
--A pity not to have heard
the other, less primitive music of the fat brown bird
who sings above the broken gasoline pump
in a bamboo church of Jesuit baroque:
three towers, five silver crosses.
--Yes, a pity not to have pondered,
blurr'dly and inconclusively,
on what connection can exist for centuries
between the crudest wooden footwear
and, careful and finicky,
the whittled fantasies of wooden footwear
and, careful and finicky,
the whittled fantasies of wooden cages.
--Never to have studied history in
the weak calligraphy of songbirds' cages.
--And never to have had to listen to rain
so much like politicians' speeches:
two hours of unrelenting oratory
and then a sudden golden silence
in which the traveller takes a notebook, writes:

"Is it lack of imagination that makes us come
to imagined places, not just stay at home?
Or could Pascal have been not entirely right
about just sitting quietly in one's room?

Continent, city, country, society:
the choice is never wide and never free.
And here, or there . . . No. Should we have stayed at home,
wherever that may be?"

Elizabeth Bishop

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

I picked up this book at Barnes & Noble the day before Dewey's read-a-thon. It was on the staff recommendations bookshelf, recommend by Tom. I also noticed Tom recommended The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Under his recommendation he wrote this was one of his favorite books that was recently published. The Elegance of the Hedgehog also happened to be one of my favorite reads of 2010, so I quickly decided I could trust Tom's taste in books and bought The School of Essential Ingredients. It turns out this book wasn't anything more than a beach read; light, easy and less than fulfilling.

The book details the inner-workings of a cooking class, briefly delving into the lives and history of each student, with a focus on the cooking instructor. While certain phrases and ideas shined through every now and then, overall I found the story to be blunt and lacking depth. The characters felt contrived and everything wrapped up a little too neatly for my taste.
A few participants had no desire for lessons at all, arriving with gift certificates in hand as if on a forced march to certain failure: they knew their cakes would always be flat , their cream sauces filled with small, disconcerting pockets of flour, like bills in your mailbox when you had hoped for a love letter.
This book may as well have been a bill in my mailbox, because I enjoyed it just the same. Lesson learned; Tom is no longer to be trusted.

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group, 2009


Orange Prize Shortlist Announced

It's down to 6! The Orange Prize shortlist was announced today. I'm happy to see a worldly range of authors:

Emma Donoghue (Irish) - Room
Aminatta Forna (British/Sierra Leonean) - The Memory of Love
Emma Henderson (British) - Grace Williams Says it Loud
Nichole Krauss (American) - Great House
Tea Obreht (Serbian/American) - The Tiger's Wife
Kathleen Winter (Canadian) - Annabel

Judge Bethany Huges said of the shortlist:
The clarity and human-understanding on the page is simply breathtaking. The number of first-time novelists is an indicator of the rude health of women's writing. The verve and scope of storylines pays compliment to the female imagination. There are no subjects these authors don't dare to tackle. Even though the stories in our final choices range from kidnapping to colonialism, from the persistence of love to Balkan folk-memory, from hermaphroditism to abuse in care, the books are written with such a skilful lightness of touch, humour, sympathy and passion, they all make for an exhilarating and uplifting read. This shortlist should give hours of reading pleasure to the wider world.
I'm going to put it out there that I hope Room does not win. I feel like it has gotten so much recognition already, I'd really like to see a lesser known work take home the prize.

If you'd like to check out a blogger who has read many of the 2011 Oranges, I suggest you head over to Jackie at
Farmlane Books, who has been following the award closely.

Image via The Orange Prize.

Books I'd Like To See Made Into Movies

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This post is difficult for me because I'm generally not a fan of books made into movies. Seldom is it done in a way that gives the book all it deserves. That being said, this is a list of books I would like to see made into movies provided they are done very, very well.

1. Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon: An amazing story that could be easily translated to the big screen.

2. Kindred - Octavia Butler: "A kind of grim fantasy" that could prove to be a heartbreaking but powerful movie.

3. The Book of Illusions - Paul Auster: I couldn't put this book down and provided the movie was done well, I think it would be a great suspense.

4. Oryx and Crake or The Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood: This one would be a tough movie to make, but it would be quite interesting to see.

5. The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbury: The movie might be slow, but I'd still go see it.

6. The Book of Lost Things - John Connolly: A great adventure story that would be anything but boring.

7. The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri: Really a touching story that wouldn't be too hard to bring to the big screen.

8. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer: I hesitate to add this one to the list, because in reality I don't think the movie would come close to giving the novel the justice it deserves, but it would still be interesting to see.

9. One Day - David Nichols: I know this is already made into a movie but I can't wait to see it!


The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

I can't remember where I first read about this book, but I added it to my TBR and I'm glad I did. The story begins as our protagonist Changez meets an American stranger at a cafe in Lahore. He recounts to the American his own experience in America, graduating from Princeton and working in corporate New York City, and his struggle to maintain his old way of life after the 9/11 attacks.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist examines the shifting identity of a Pakistani man who is at odds with both his home country and the country that has been his home for years, America. He is uncertain of his place in the world, both physically and mentally:
I was a modern-day janissary, a servant of the American empire at a time when it was invading a country with a kinship to mine and was perhaps even colluding to ensure that my own country faced the threat of war. Of course I was struggling! Of course I felt torn!
The structure and conversational tone of the narrative makes the novel quite powerful. It offers a glimpse into the life of Muslim who was proud of his accomplishments and life in the US, but quickly became disenchanted with its inner-workings and at odds with his own identity.

Publisher: Mariner, 2007


Dewey's 24-Hour Read-A-Thon: Stick a Fork in Me

This was my very first read-a-thon and all in all, I think it was a success. I don't think I've ever read so much in one day, except maybe in college during finals but that feels much different.

Aside from the two naps I took throughout the day (one short, one long), two meal breaks and a few blogging breaks, I managed to devote an entire day to reading which I think is pretty cool. I've never been a super fast reader, but I did manage to finish three books (one that I had started prior to the read-a-thon) and begin a fourth book.

Since this was my first time participating, I wasn't sure what to expect. I was surprised that I was easily tuckered out, as I read in shifts that lasted a few hours, after which I promptly fell asleep. I'm also surprised I didn't eat more, but I suppose a day that is devoted to sitting or laying while reading a book doesn't require many calories. Later into the night my brain began to feel a little fuzzy and my eyesight didn't seem up to par. Hence my final post as I am headed off to bed, 1:30am my time. Considering I started at 7:30am yesterday, I think I held out fairly well.

I plan on participating again, either in October or next April, but I will be sure to change a few things. For one I will be sure to have a least one very small book - we are talking something under 125 pages. I think this would work well as a moral booster and help me to feel more accomplished throughout the day. A graphic novel wouldn't hurt either. I think I will also make time to move around more, as I think the lethargic nature of the day lent to my not one, but two naps.

Final Stats

Books completed: 3
Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut (1969), started prior to the read-a-thon, finished this morning
The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Moshin Hamid (2007)
The School of Essential Ingredients - Erica Bauermeister (2009)
Norwegian Wood - Huruki Murakami (1987), started but not completed

Pages read: 614

Breaks taken:10

Goodnight and happy reading to the rest of you!


Dewey's 24-Hour Read-A-Thon: I Feel Asleep Again

I was making good time with The School of Essential Ingredients when I felt myself getting sleepy again. I got up, walked around a little and resumed reading, only to succumb to sleep around 5:30. Then I woke up at 8:15. Yikes... I lost about three hours to an early evening nap.

But I'm back to keep reading. Stats so far:

Pages read: 413
Books completed: 2
Breaks taken: 6

Who would have known this read-a-thon would take so much out of me? I did get 7 hours of sleep last night so I shouldn't be this tired. My goal is to finish The School of Essential Ingredients and get a few hundred pages into a fourth book. Once again, I wish I had a graphic novel to break things up.

Dewey's 24-Hour Read-A-Thon: Another Book Down

Since my last update I finished The Reluctant Fundamentalist. It read fairly quickly but was anything but light. It's a very powerful account of one man's struggle with identity and place. Halfway through the novel I took an hour-long nap.

Now I'm off to read something a little more warmhearted - The School of Essential Ingredients. At 255 pages it will take me a little longer, but I'm hoping it moves quickly. I am now kicking myself for not having a graphic novel on hand...

Pages read: 283
Books completed: 2
Breaks taken: 4 (one nap, one meal break, two blog breaks)

After comparing my page count with some other participants, it's becoming painfully obvious I am not a very fast reader compared to other bloggers. But I will keep reading!

Dewey's 24-Hour Read-A-Thon: Fuel

I finished Slaughterhouse-Five and reviewed it, because I felt like it was overdue. I'm not going to do anymore reviews today and instead focus on the reading! Next up: The Reluctant FundamentalistI also took a little break to eat breakfast/fuel myself with some lox and berries.

I don't remember where I read about The Reluctant Fundamentalist, but it sounds quite interesting: a Pakistani's experience living in post-9/11 New York. It was shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize in 2007. At 184 pages I'm thinking I will finish it in a few hours. Until then happy reading!

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Everything is all right, and everybody has to do exactly what he does.

I've always been a fan of Kurt Vonnegut's short stories, but this is my first full-length novel of his that I have read. Slaughterhouse-Five is a semi-autobiographical account of Kurt Vonnegut's experience in WWII told through the eyes of Billy Pilgrim. It combines the bombing of Dresden with Billy's capacity to be "unstuck" in time, time-traveling to Tralfamadore and living among aliens.

Vonnegut explores time and memory, and the human desire to explain the world around us and understand what we don't know. He writes about the human condition brilliantly, highlighting the twinkles of bliss and humor that shine through the darker occasions. He explores the human passion for life and the experience of living. But the book isn't hopeful, as we are left without any resolution or moral. Rather, Vonnegut exposes the follies and the misjudgments that humans experience as we try to cope with life, which to him, is insignificant.
If what Billy Pilgrim learned from the Tralfamadorians is true, that we will all live forever, no matter how dead we may sometimes seem to be, I am not overjoyed. Still--if I am going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, I'm grateful that so many of those moments are nice.
The book is fractured and written in a muted language, which adds to the non-romanticized, indefinable view of war. While it very clearly satirizes war and exposes it's absurdities, it also speaks to it's inevitability. Slaughterhouse-Five raises existential questions without slapping you in the face with them. We aren't left with answers, but Vonnegut surmises through an exploration of fate and free-will that we can chose our own path, however trivial it may be.
All time is all time. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all... bugs in amber.
 Publisher: Dial Press, 1969

Dewey's 24-Hour Read-A-Thon: Let's Go!

Let the read-a-thon begin! I snoozed my alarm this morning so I didn't roll out of bed until 7:15 but now that the coffee is made and my eyes are awake I am ready to go! I am starting the day off by finishing up Slaughterhouse-Five, which is long overdue for review.

Last night I picked up some shorter titles specifically for the read-a-thon, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Hamid), The School of Essential Ingredients (Bauermeister) and Norwegian Wood (Murakami). I'll most likely pick one of these up after Slaughterhouse-Five - which has been great so far.

It is miserably gray outside and it feels like the perfect day to read. I'm going to stay holed up at home for most of the day with a book in hand. This is my first read-at-thon and I'm not sure what to expect, but I am hoping to finish 3 books. I think that's pretty realistic provided they aren't too long. Let the read-a-thon begin!


Dewey's Read-A-Thon: I'm in!

I just signed up for Dewey's 24-Hour Read-A-Thon and I'm really excited! This will be my first read-a-thon. The read-a-thon begins at noon GMT, which is 7:00am in my timezone. I'm going to hit the bookstore later this evening to stock up on some new titles and then get a good nights sleep to wake up at 7. I'm not going to go crazy and not sleep on Saturday night, but I do plan on staying up as long as I can and reading as much as I can in the 24-hour period.

Since Spring has sprung I have been pretty busy and have let my reading fall by the wayside. This is the perfect excuse to drop everything for a little while and get back to reading. I'll post updates throughout the read-a-thon and hop around to check on other participants. If you'd like to join me, head over to here to sign up.


Kurt Vonnegut in The Paris Review

As I finish up Slaughterhouse-Five and prepare to review it, I read a fantastic interview with Kurt Vonnegut via The Paris Review. The interview is from the 70's and details, among other things, Vonnegut's experience in WWII and what prompted him to write about it with the viewpoint that he did, an experience that he relates at the start of Slaughterhouse-Five:
I would try to write my war story, whether it was interesting or not, and try to make something out of it. I describe that process a little in the beginning ofSlaughterhouse Five; I saw it as starring John Wayne and Frank Sinatra. Finally, a girl called Mary O’Hare, the wife of a friend of mine who’d been there with me, said, “You were just children then. It’s not fair to pretend that you were men like Wayne and Sinatra, and it’s not fair to future generations, because you’re going to make war look good.” That was a very important clue to me. She freed me to write about what infants we really were: seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one. We were baby-faced, and as a prisoner of war I don’t think I had to shave very often. I don’t recall that that was a problem.
Vonnegut also recalls the importance of diversity among authors, namely a diversity of background - that not every author should hold an English literature graduate degree:
I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on his mind other than the history of literature so far. Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.
If you get a chance I suggest you read the interview in its entirety. He explains what he believes to be the theory of writing a good story and what exactly makes a good writer. Vonnegut is truly captivating in a nonchalant, pessimistic kind of way.

April 11th marks the 4 year anniversary of Kurt Vonnegut's death. So it goes.


National Poetry Month: e.e. cummings

April is National Poetry Month which has got me thinking I don't spotlight nearly enough poetry here. I am no poetry guru, but I do enjoy reading it from time to time. My very favorite poet is e.e. cummings, followed closely by Elizabeth Bishop. I had a love affair with e.e. cummings' poetry in college and later discovered Bishop.

e.e. cummings is a non-traditional poet, experimenting with form, structure and syntax to create an innovative and fresh take on 20th century poetry. For me he is probably the most accessible avant-garde poet. He plays with language in a way that reminds me why I enjoy language so much, and that delights me. If you aren't familiar with his work I suggest you check out 100 Selected Poems which contains one of my favorite cummings poems, "who knows if the moon's":

who knows if the moon's
a balloon,coming out of a keen city
in the sky--filled with pretty people?
(and if you and i should

get into it,if they
should take me and take you into their balloon,
why then
we'd go up higher with all the pretty people

than houses and steeples and clouds:
go sailing
away and away sailing into a keen
city which nobody's ever visited,where

Spring)and everyone's
in love and flowers pick themselves


Reading in Review: March

Books read: 6

Inside of a Dog - Alexandra Horowitz (2009)
The Old Man and The Sea - Ernest Hemingway (1952)
Falling Man - Don DeLillo (2007)
Cat's Eye - Margaret Atwood (1988)
A Room of One's Own - Virginia Woolf (1929)
The Magicians - Lev Grossman (2009)

Favorite March read: Cat's Eye

Authors of color read: 0%

Non-fiction read: 33%

Non-American authors read: 33%

Books read that are older than me: 33%

Compared with last month I did better at reading non-American authors, but 2 out of 6 books still isn't very much "non-American". I'm going to try and hit 50% in April. I'm still working on my classics challenge, and since I had to bump The Age of Innocence off the tally, I'm only at 3 out of 8 completed. But Vonnegut is on my list, so it will soon be 4.

photo via weheartit