End of July

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July 2017

A bit of a drop with the reading, but a lot done in other areas, along with some setbacks.

Books Read

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Right away, I jumped into Gaimen’s Anansi Boys. The title is reminiscent of Brothers Karamazov, and though it is an off chute of Gaimen’s American Gods, in no way is it as good. For me, Gaimen’s always been this way. I’ll love one of his books and hate the next. With this one, I think it sprouts from the predictability and the overall British humor throughout. From other reviews, some went nuts, claiming it’s his best. But I don’t see it.

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Then, for my book club, I read Straight Man. This author is much more famous for his book Empire Falls, which I might check out based on this first venture into his writing. His characters are detailed and often humorous, though I’m not sure what the overall theme or meaning of the book actually was. Despite that, I thought his writing was entertaining enough, but be forewarned; the story takes time to build as there is a huge cast of characters. I’d say it wasn’t until about 35% in when the action grabbed me. Otherwise, it finished fast.

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After that I read The Imperfectionists. I’d heard of this book before and how the author, and ex-newspaper man, quit his job, camped out in Paris, and supposed wrote this amazing book. Knowing this backstory, I can see where he got a lot of his details, as the book takes place at a failing newspaper in Europe, but besides that I have little good things to say. Despite liking his style and his ability to make you like each character, as the novel is cut into vignettes, I didn’t see the overall connection between all of them, and many times the chapters ended with little or no resolve.

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And then a setback struck. My back tightened up and I was laid up in immense pain, unable to move for roughly a week. However, the doctor, this time, unlike the other times, dropped a little phrase on me—‘Black Disc.’ This is supposed the name of my condition. With this in hand, I scowered the internet for books on this disease and found this wonderfully helpful book, The Great Escape: How I beat Degenerative Disc Disease. It is a great, succinct resource.

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So with my time drained from one setback, I actually encountered another—Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Ubervilles. I’ve read his books before but not his seminal work he’s most known for. I picked up a used copy, excited for what it might entail and…hit a complete brick wall. Going into it, I knew his prose was dense and difficult at times, but the beginning of this book dragged and petered out on me within the first 100 pages. I had to force fed the next 100 pages just to get the ball rolling again. By the end, I’d have to say I see the purpose and the hype of the book. I was frustrated at the double standards for women in it, which only makes you think of the standards now. However, I would’ve been just as happy if he had made it a little bit more accessible earlier on.

Progress on 2017 goals

  • Finish Crasher: Done—sent to: 72 agents
  • Read Life: A Manual: Done

The Fountainhead: Done

Here I Am: Done

Ship of Fools: Done

Tess D’ubervilles: Done

Middlemarch: not started

  • Send ‘All the Things in the Unknown World’ to agents: 225—done!
  • New Book: Brief Lives: a current total of 55,000 words, which makes this months addition a whopping 40,000 words. My best number yet.

Next Month’s Agenda

Clearly, my mind is in writing mood. Because of this my reading schedule has been shifted slightly, though my numbers are already well above last years. With this in mind, I will most likely complete Brief Lives next month, jump into an edit, and hopeful have a physical copy for another round of editing by the following month. Then I’ll be back into my TBR and looking to finish strong for the end of the year.

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