Fall Reading, Part I: September’s Reading

So, as it turns out, when I dedicate time every night before bed for a little bit of reading, I can actually read quite a few books (my DVR and Netflix are suffering a bit, however!). The month of September has been productive for me:

Sula by Toni Morrison. This is my second Morrison, after The Bluest Eye, and I appreciate the development of her prose over her career. The character of Sula Peace is complex and fascinating, and it made me wish for more. I’m currently reading Jazz for my Postmodern American Literature class, and I’ve really come to appreciate Toni Morrison as an author (I’ll recap Jazz next month).

Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee. I’ve read two of Coetzee’s books (Waiting for the Barbarians and Diary of a Bad Year) but this was for me the most difficult, rewarding, and masterful. David Lurie is not a good man, nor is he likeable or honorable. So it’s a testament to Coetzee’s craft that I still found David to be utterly compelling. Disgrace is heartbreaking, but so, so important to understand how race, class, and gender have played out in pre- and post-Apartheid South Africa.

White Noise by Don DeLillo. The first book I’ve read in my Postmodern class, White Noise is provocative and hilarious. Seriously. It’s a great farce on consumer culture. DeLillo captures the greed and herd mentality of Americans perfectly, and it’s either a testament to his vision or a disgrace on us as a culture that not too much has really changed since 1985.

Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis. Previously, I’d been undecided on whether or not I liked Martin Amis. This book tipped me over into the “Like” category. It’s a viciously funny satire that begins by asking, “Who let the dogs in? Who? Who?” At first, I rolled my eyes. Seriously, does THIS look like a man who knows the Baha Men?

But that riff becomes important, so important, in fact, that one doesn’t understand why Amis even asks the question until the answer is needed. That’s all I’m going to say. But I was surprised. Blindsided, in fact.

The Chosen by Chaim Potok. This is one of The Chancellor’s favorite books, so I had to read it. As an academic who is also an ardent Christian, I occasionally struggle to balance my faith and my scholarly knowledge. Therefore, I found this book to be compelling and an honest depiction of the process I’ve had to undergo in my own life.

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich. Told from a multitude of perspectives, Erdrich unravels a family history, one that is messy, full of secrets, and vastly different, if each person is to be believed. The writing is magical. The stories weave in together and clash terribly. But that’s storytelling, isn’t it?

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I’d heard of David Mitchell, but I didn’t pay too much attention to Cloud Atlas until I saw this still for the movie:

I don’t really care much for Halle Berry, but Hanx…well, when he gets gritty, I’m in. So, I read it. While I didn’t love all six stories equally, I did find them interesting in some degree, especially the stories of Robert Frobisher, Luisa Rey, and Timothy Cavendish. I’m curious to see how the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer handle such a complex text.

Transmetropolitan: Back on the Street (Vol. 1) by Warren Ellis. My sister recommended this to me, so after years of recommending books to her, I thought I could at least return the favor. My first thought in the first pages were, “Man, this guy’s a crank.” Spider Jerusalem totally is, by the way, but he’s an awesome journalist, searching for the ugly truth, even if it means crashing a brothel to write (it happens). I would definitely use this as an example of postmodern text, and it pairs nicely with something like Maus or Watchmen. I’ll definitely continue reading the series.

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. When I went to a book signing by Patrick Rothfuss, I heard about this title for the first time. Learning that it was classic fantasy, I promptly put in a library request. It’s bittersweet, magical, and lovely. Quite lovely.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. I really like the way that Roy plays with time, chronology, etc. here. The story focuses on a few focal events, then goes back and forth in time to show us just how much these few occurrences proved to be so pivotal to a family. I will say, though, that I am getting tired of the Jaime-Cersei Lannister twin trope. Seriously.

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