Thursday, April 10, 2008

What I Was Reading in February & March

Since I've waited too long to do these reviews they are far too long for one post. I'll split them into categories... so here's the first bit.

Suite Francaise by Irene Demirovsky
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Stop Forgetting to Remember: The Autobiography of Walter Kurtz by Peter Kuper
Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami
Until they Bring the Streetcars Back by Stanley Gordon West
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

February feels like it was ages ago. Events in Feb. and March have dictated my reading choices. Suite Francaise was a book club pick for February and I really enjoyed this one. It was a great complement to Atonement, read in January.

March is always the UND Writers Conference month and so we read a book by Junot Diaz for book club in preparation for meeting him. Some folks read both his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and his collection of short stories, Drown. I only had time for the novel, but I've been told the stories are great. I sure enjoyed meeting him. And it's been an even richer experience considering this past week his novel won the pulitzer prize. Woo Hoo! Peter Kuper is a graphic novelist and artist who also appeared at the Writers Conference and though his wasn't my favorite graphic novel of all time, it was engaging.

I had to read a couple books for school, to determine if they were books I wanted to teach. I found The Stranger to be a bit too grim and philosophical for my purposes. I have been encouraged to try some of his other titles. Until They Bring the Streetcars Back was not something I would recommend. While three different teachers I know read and loved it, I did NOT have that same reaction. I thought the writing was amateurish and the subject matter a bit stomach turning. Of course I can see their perspectives in why they liked the book, but it's nothing I would choose to teach. The world is too full of better books.

Plum Lucky, Tropic of Cancer, and Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman are all self-selected books. I found Plum Lucky to be a little bit sparse, as are most of Evanovich's between the numbers novels. The Murakami book is a collection of short stories and I only finished about half of them before the library threatened to revoke my card and I had to return it. I expect to finish it sometime soon and to possibly try out on of his novels. I've only managed to read the Karl Shapiro preface of the Miller book so far. I expect that will be an April read for me.

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