Gotta lotta reading done. Gotta lotta writing done. Gotta lotta Chewy done. Good month.
First this month was a long time wait…A Wild Sheep Chase. It is technically Murakami’s third book, and the one when he felt he really grew into being an author by discovering the story as he went along, but it is actually the first one translated into English. Having read almost everything else by him, clearly this one did read like a first novel. Characters and causes were haphazard with little or no reason for certain events. If you’re a diehard fan, you may enjoy it, but I found it lacking overall.
Then I went nonfiction with Triumph of the City. I liked the main premise of this book and the way it did describe how we have to aim to be more city-like and what policies are actually detrimental to the overall health of the world. Sadly, though, it felt like an ill-prepared piece as there was a lot of repetition with little new insight after you grasped his main idea. In the end, not bad, but not mind-blowing.
Moving on, I picked up Tenth of December, a collection of short stories. I’ve wanted to read something by this author for a while, having heard he just came out with his first novel after years of only short stories. Yes, these tails are good, and certain ones have amazing voices in them. However, I wouldn’t say I was wowed at all. Still, I enjoyed the read, and it was fast for what it was worth.
Done with the short, I dove into the long with The Book of Joe. This book is an unbelievable light read. It moves fast, never touching on anything serious for too long and gives mild laughs along the way with semi-predictable actions by the characters. Is it amazing? No. It reads like those fun, old novels by nineties writers that seem to be about something, but aren’t as deep as you think or want. Not bad at the end of the day.
Having read his shorts, I tried his long, Lincoln in the Bardo by Saunders. Right away he tries to jar you with the different presentation, almost sidenoting who is speaking or narrating at each turn. On top of that, certain chapters are filled with real and sometimes made up non-fiction details from actual books. All of it helps to paint a picture of what politics were at the time, which compared to now, really, is no different. Again, though, by the end, I found nothing to hoot over. The story was fairly run of the mill, only the presentation deserves a bit of a tip of the hat, so I didn’t go that crazy for it.
The prior book was a Man-Booker, and then next one was too with Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. At first glance, I thought it might be light and fun with a thin page count. I was wrong. Though some parts are funny with the hi-jinks these kids get into, all in all, the stories are disconnected events in a hooligan-like Irish kid’s life. By the time you get about 70% of the way through, we get some kind of story about his abusive father, but everything before it doesn’t feel like prologue—it feels disjointed. Besides that, it was a struggle to read because of the missing plot. Man-Booker, really?
Wanting something fun, I read Midsummer’s Equation, by my fav, Higashino. It’s one of his thicker books and has detective Galileo in it. Right away it is easy to slip into, but after that it drags. This being the third one translated into English, I’ve realized that maybe I don’t like Galileo or his series. They’re always slow-burns with little reveal, unlike all of the other non-Galileo books by Higashino. Not one of this best.
Then I found a cheap copy of Call Me By Your Name, and had to pick it up. I read it instantly, as my wife is pestering me to watch the movie soon. Initially, the heavy prose and introspection felt gimmicky, like a narrator trying to show airs. But after slipping into it another 20 pages, I got used to it and really liked it. I finished it quickly and did feel sad to have it end. A surprised read in that manner, I recommend it, even if it’s not earth shattering.
Finally, I read Ramona Blue. I know, I know—YA again? Somehow I get dragged into them, hoping deep down that they won’t disappoint. Then, ten minutes later, I’m 10% in and I realize—nope!—just as crappy as most YA, except Rainbow Rowell. All the horribleness is here: constant rehashing of plot points, characters having tons of ‘feels,’ and of course, chapters upon chapters where nothing—not a thing, unless you counting marking the passing of time—happens. And this is a bestseller. Go figure!
Progress on 2018 goals
1) Finish Brief Lives / Query / Synopsis: Done / 2 letters / halfway: Done
2) Chewy Noh (graphic novel): 4 parts done
3) Student workbook: Done
4) Spring Reading:
Quixote: Not started
5) Read 75 books: 58
6) American Snowflakes: 25,000 words done
Next Month’s Agenda
I will be wrapping up my reading time next month as the semester winds down and I get ready for my trip to America. My brother says he should have a few pages done by then to show me for the Chewy Noh graphic novel. Added, I want to be much more along in my new novel. So far so good. Another productive month would be nice.