October in Review

September 2018

Working hard so far with a little inspiration. Still somehow in the mix of it was able to read more than my normal monthly average, so glad there too. With a vacant weekend coming up, I should be able to tackle even more writing.

Books Read

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First off, I tackled another Sedaris book, this time: Let’s Explore Diabetes and with Owls. Although I’ve recently been on a kick of his, digesting a book a month practically and have one more lined up for each month for the rest of the year, this one was mediocre, but still better than Dress Your Family Up. I particularly like the more relevant and current essays, dealing with Obama, Hillary, and Trump. You get to really see his humor and observations show how ridiculous America really is sometimes. The little vignettes were sometimes off, but at other times dead on funny, despite having none of his usual fodder in them.

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Then I got into Zadie’s Smith White Teeth, which claimed to be the biggest and best debut ever. Frankly, I didn’t get it, and luckily, I’m not alone. Many others questioned why this launched her, finding her overrated and a bit hackneyed. Being an American too, many things—as in her similes and such—didn’t resonate as well as maybe with a Brit, but from the Brits that did read it, they said the writing and gags were stale—common Brit go-to. Like most modern lit, I found the details heavy, the plot lacking, and the characters flat based on quirky anecdotes. Did not live up to the hype.

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Having seen a friend gushing over his first Stephen King book, I decided to dive into the master of horror again too, having not read him since my Insomnia reread roughly six years ago. This time I took on more recent fare: Under the Dome. First off, I had no idea what I was getting into. This book is huge, but thanks to his writing it did fly fast, and once the characters were established, skimming and speed-reading was not hard task. Unfortunately, despite the plot and premise being interesting, the tension and resolve eventually gave out and I was severely disappointed with the ending and the whole cause of the debacle. I got his point: Humans suck! But it was delivered in a less than climatic way.

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A quick library read: Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad about My Neck and other essays got my attention because I heard so much about her. I had no idea what big blockbusters she was known for until reading this. That said, the first couple of essays in the book didn’t really hit home. They were mostly short pieces that quite possibly a larger female audience would relate to, if not an older one. However, as the book progressed, she began to reveal more of her personal life, her famous friends, like in New York and so on, and that brought my attention to it much more. It felt like a female David Sedaris, if that’s possible. Still, the beginning dragged and it was hard to redeem itself entirely.

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Another quick Korean library read was Be Prepared. This is from the same creator of Anya’s Ghost, so immediately I understood why there was so much Russian culture dripping throughout. Unlike the former, Be Prepared is grounded in reality, based on her own experience. In this way, I’m glad she showed her creativity in her first outing, unlike a whole slew of illustrators nowadays that parade some sad, emotional arc from the childhood to gain fame. On top of this, the drawings were still wonderful and vibrant, so I enjoyed it.

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Book Club Book of the Month: Audition. I suggested it because I loved Murakami’s In the Miso Soup. I thought the social commentary was insightful, if not dated from an American standpoint, but still very relevant for many Asians. However, with this, his most notorious book on the international stage, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much. The writing was impeccable and colorful, not to mention with what detail he illustrates his most poignant scenes (the sex scene and the final twist), but the message is lost in there somewhere and doesn’t come up quite as readily as his other work.

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Then onto Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. I listened to this shorty, and loved the immensely strong language and diabolic sentences. Baldwin has always been known for his fierce writing, but up until now I had little chance to enjoy it. Though a lot of it deals with his childhood, religion, and racial discrimination, it never felt lacking with power, nor the fact that I knew he was gay and the subtleties he mentioned clearly referenced such things. I also enjoyed the well-rounded approach he had to the hate that existed in his time. While the blacks hated whites, and vice versa, he constantly dissected both sides’ argument and delved into deeper understandings of why and how both react this way. Amazing.

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Finally, the book I was waiting for Murakami’s Killing Commendatore. I didn’t know this at first, but this was a homage to Great Gatsby, which really did turn up my enjoyment of this thick novel quite a bit. In fact, not knowing it might have detracted from it, mainly because the book is slow and starts where most of his fare starts: with a broken relationship. All the key and quintessential Murakami themes and motifs float throughout this tome, but unlike some of his bigger attempts in the past, I feel he succeeds strongly here, while 1Q84 and Kafka on the Shore missed it. The only drawback was somewhat repetition in key facts that surface throughout the book. A good edit, chopping off 100 pages, could’ve easily cleaned that up; otherwise, I loved it.

 

Progress on 2018 goals

1) Finish Brief Lives / Query / Synopsis: Done / 2 letters / halfway: Done

2) Chewy Noh (graphic novel): Done (with outline)

3) Student workbook: Done

4) Spring Reading:

                  J.R.: Done!!!

                  Quixote: 550 pages (close to finishing!)

5) Read 125 books: 117

6) American Snowflakes: 70,000 words done

Next Month’s Agenda

Only now that I look at it, I’ve actually only added about 10,000 words, and since I’m aiming for around 150,000, I’m chugging along, but not as fast as I’d like. I’m about halfway to my goal, but I was hoping to much further along so that when I hit the winter break I can pump the rest out. Already I have a new project growing in my head and on paper (in the preliminary stages) but the way I feel about it makes it hard to stay focused on my current project. I hope I can knock a lot out this next month and stay track on my reading.

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