January 2007

MacDowell was incredible, as usual. Read a bunch, wrote a bunch. Feeling pretty okay about my new novel. I decided to embark on a six month project - for the next six months, unless I'm reading for my novel, I plan only to reread books. The idea was that I want to read good stuff and good stuff only. What turns out to be happening, however, is that I'm finding that some books just don't hold up. So Long See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell This may be the world's most perfect novel. Or perhaps that's not fair to say, as I haven't read all the novels in the world. It's certainly the most perfect novel I've ever read.

13 Ways of Looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley This book was tremendously helpful when I began the book. I kept rereading little sections of it. Regeneration by Pat Barker Every bit as perfect as it was the first time. Heartburn by Nora Ephron Fun read. Spartinaby John Casey I read this because I need to know about wooden boat building. I enjoyed it a lot. Charming Billy by Alice McDermott Still my favorite book. Henry and Clara by Thomas Mallon A book that DEFINITELY held up. Grab on to Me Tightly as if I knew the Way by Bryan Charles A fun novel by a sweet guy I met at MacDowell. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald You'll be stunned to discover that this book is nigh on perfect.

A Bigamist's Daughter by Alice McDermott Good but everything in the world pales in comparison to Charming Billy

The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies The first of the trilogy is delightful. Amazing, even. Then they sort of go down hill. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn This book was the tragedy so far of the rereading project. If you had asked me a couple of years ago what my favorite book was I'd have said this one. But upon rereading I discovered that the author has such a jaundiced view of her characters, so constricted, so ungenerous. I couldn't bear it. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides Marvelous. As marvelous as the first time. A Thousand Years of Good Prayersby Yiyun Li Every once in a great while a linguistic genius shows up. Someone who can create beautiful prose in a foreign language. She's ours. The Lobster Chronicles by Linda Greenlaw Now I know a little something about lobstering. The Lobster Coast by Colin Woodard Now I know a lot about lobsters. And the book was well written, too.