Category Archives: American literature

My Name Is Lucy Barton: In which I retract my claim about writers in New York.

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I deserved this book. After all my whinging about how all books set in New York about writers were/are terrible, I read Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton and find myself retracting that outrageous and essentializing claim. Instead let’s agree that almost all books set in New York about writers are terrible – one exception is this one. Which is terrific. Really. Continue reading

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Lincoln in the Bardo: This book may be terrible, but it’s hard to tell because its author is George Saunders.

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You’ll probably read Lincoln in the Bardo because everyone is talking about it and because George Saunders is some kind of savant  of literary genius who writes sentences that are so particular in their detail and yet so vast in their evocation of feeling that while reading you sort of stumble between the narrative itself and the awareness that you are reading the work of a master of language-to-mean. Not unlike my own opening run-on-sentence, right? Right. Continue reading

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The People in the Trees: Reading While Anxious

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I’ve had some things going on in my life. Some major life things, or Life Events, or what-have-you. As a consequence I’ve been really, really good at not falling asleep, and fretting, and ruminating, and considering pro’s and con’s. I’ve been really, really poor at reading an entire novel. So between the start of March and now I’ve read things that made space for my fleeting focus (which isn’t to say these things don’t require focus, only that I was only able to muster focus for a fleeting period: half an hour in the bath, twenty minutes on the bus): Alice Munro short stories, re-reading for the hundred million-th time the Beverly Cleary Ramona series and starting and then dropping a sequence of novels that in another time would have had me captured (Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad is the most unlucky in the lot – I made it a third of the way in, put it down for a week of fretting, and when I returned could. not. recall. what I had already read and so abandoned the whole project. Even though I recognized in the first third that it was an excellent novel. I digress). A side question for you then is what do you read when you’re anxious? Or unable to focus?  Continue reading

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Today Will Be Different: Rich, white people are unhappy.

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Did I hate Maria Semple’s Today Will be Different? Did I love it? Did I love-hate it? I can’t tell. Maybe writing this will help me sort it out. Or book club on Thursday.  Continue reading

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Filed under American literature, Bestseller, Book Club, Fiction, Funny, New York Times Notable