Sunday, July 20, 2014

Reading Notes Since the Big One

Been doing some good reading lately, ever since my heart attack about a month ago.  Sometimes it goes that way. Other times I read books and hit a run I don't really care for, but read them because I can learn from bad writing, too.  At those times, it really is work, the reading - the way the writing is work every day.

I swear I think the surge in reading interest is because of the newly unblocked blood flow to my brain. Leading up to having a stent placed in my right coronary artery, my reading list had been stuck in the mud. I'm actually embarrassed to say how few books I read in the last year.

But that's not been the case lately.  Not at all.

It started with Michael Kimball's GALAGA, which I linked to here a couple posts back or so.  Fine book. Then it was Rob McClennan's THE UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE.  I reviewed both of these, with Kimball's appearing at The Small Press Book Review.  McClennan's review will be published July 28 or thereabouts at Necessary Fiction.

Then it was on to Shane Jones's CRYSTAL EATERS.  My review of this book (built like a brick cigar house and without wasting a single word) will be published in American Book Review in August.

In the past week, I've had the great pleasure of reading Christine Schutt's NIGHTWORK, a reread of Chris Offutt's OUT OF THE WOODS, George Saunders's TENTH OF DECEMBER, and Ben Marcus's THE AGE OF WIRE AND STRING. All of these very good reads, especially TENTH OF DECEMBER and the reread of Chris's best collection, in my opinion. In fact, I would firmly place TOD in the great category. Best use of voice I've come across in maybe forever. Saunders is pretty much a genius.

Now I'm reading MAGIC FOR BEGINNERS by Kelly Link and CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA by Frank Bill.  These two go together nicely - Link with her magical worlds in this collection and Bill keeping things beautifully grounded with some gritty realism set not far from the place and culture I write about most days.  Both are good at what they do.

On tap for reading in the next month or so: CODE FOR FAILURE by Ryan W. Bradley; COLLECTED STORIES of Amy Hempel; COAST OF CHICAGO by Stuart Dybek; TOWNIE: A MEMOIR by Andre Dubus III; BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA by Dorothy Allison; THE FAST RED ROAD: A PLAINSONG by Stephen Graham Jones.

Read hard.

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