January 2005

I'm feeling very sassy about my reading over the past two months. Not only have I read some fabulous books, but I've read writers I should have read ages ago. The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard This woman is a remarkable writer on a sentence level. But you know what? The best sentences in the world can't save a book whose main characters are cardboard cutouts from a 1940s melodrama.

Independent People by Halldur Laxness Admit it, you've never heard of him. And yet, he won the Nobel Prize. This is a great book to start with, despite the fact that on more than one occasion I felt the need to shriek, "Bjartur, they are just sheep for crying out fucking loud!"

Caucasia by Danzy Senna This is a marvelous, fast read. Great meshing of politics and, well, prose. If you know what I mean.

The Getting Place by Susan Straight Susan Straight is such a pitch perfect writer. It's amazing to me how she manages to create perfect worlds in just a very few sentences.

A Changed Man by Francine Prose This should have been a breakout book for Ms. Prose. Sigh.

The News From Paraguay by Lily Tuck This is a fine historical novel, and I enjoyed it. I'm just not sure I get why it won the National Book Award. I mean, I thought, for example, that this next book was better.

The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates I almost didn't buy this terrific book, because, well, she's got so many. Where do you start? A clerk in one of my favorite bookstores, Diesel Books in Oakland, made me get it, and I could not stop reading. I stayed up for two nights in a row, incurring my husband's wrath.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson The writing is lovely in this novel, and it certainly rewards the reader. I still like Housekeeping much more.

Pink Pill by Helena Echlin You can't buy this yet, because it's not yet published, but when it is you should. It's great - fun and well-written. And yes, I do know the author. So what?