Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Miscellany of Titles, 2011 Clean-Up

Last post of 2011, this will quickly sweep together those books I've finished but not responded to yet. Emphasis on "quickly"!

Seymour Mayne's Ricochet, a charming collection of word sonnets, English on one page, French translations by Sabine Huynh on facing page. Wonderful to see what can be done in 14 words and fascinating to compare the translations.

David Orr's Beautiful and Pointless, an entertaining, thoughtful exploration of the state of poetry today foregrounding questions of audience, accessibility, as well as thinking about what poetry is for, what it can do, what it does do. There's a 2 or 3-page potted history of 20th-century poetry that's especially fun.

Joan Skogan's Moving Water: I read this out of my research interest in West Coast writing, especially that which features boats. It's a melancholy, but lovely, meditation on Coastal life, on the marginal in more ways than geographic -- and it's surprisingly wide-ranging for a tiny book. Pulls together a collage, an archive, perhaps, of craft/artisan imagery, First Nations stories, local lore, marine superstition.

Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus. Wonderful, magical, I'd like to share this with a few reading friends. It shimmers between steampunk, YA literature, mystery, romance . . . Morgenstern creates a world of beauty and intrigue and rich characters. Delightful.

Michael Connelly's The Drop. Not as good as the last Harry Bosch (Nine Dragons), in my opinion, but I'm seeing some potential in watching Bosch's relationship with his daughter develop -- this could push him in new ways that will be good for the series.

George Martin's Game of Thrones. After reading so many passing references to this on Twitter, I looked across at my husband one day to realize he was reading it. So I picked it up after he was done. It's a great book for sinking into during the winter break, one of those fantasy quasi-medieval worlds with romance, battle, intrigue, danger, and so many landscapes for the imagination to construct. So many words, though, that I'm not sure I'll spare the time for the rest of the series. If you have time, however, and are looking for a world to disappear into, I'd recommend it happily enough.

Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers. This is a page-turner, a Western that captures period aesthetics but with a very contemporary appeal. Sparse and odd, easy to imagine as a Coen Brothers film. There's a 3-page chapter -- ostensibly describing how one brother got his freckles -- that's one of the most compelling pieces of writing I've ever read. I gave a copy of the book to my son for Christmas and he'd finished 125 pages when he left on Boxing Day. It's that kind of book!

So there we go. Next post will be my Completed 2011 Reading list.

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