May 2006

Indecision by Benjamin KunkelThis book is good enough, but if it had been written by a woman, with a female main character undergoing the same experiences, it would have been dismissed as chick-lit. It's a comment on the profoundly sexist nature of the literary scene that this book was hailed as possessing unambiguous literary merit.

The Darling by Russell Banks I usually shy away from books about Africa. Something about them -- the light is too harsh. I know that sounds insane, but it's the best I can do to describe how I feel. But this book was mesmerizing. Shows the power of good writing to overcome any bias.

No God In Sight by Altaf Tyrewala I was sent this book because the editor read my booklog and knew I have a weakness for Indian fiction. Man, did I love this. Tiny little fragments that together make a wonderful story.

Possession by A.S. Byatt I reread this novel because I thought it would be useful to Winter's End, the book I've been working on for the past year. Then, last week, I decided that my novel isn't working. It just plain sucks. I'm throwing it away and starting something new. But at least I had a chance to reread Possession.

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan I am obsessed with food. I love it, I'm freaked out by it. I don't do anything socially other than see movies and eat. I serve only organic food to my kids, and I'm convinced we all have lurking spongiform encepholopathy. Which is why this book is perfect for me.

Theft by Peter Carey I love Peter Carey, and at some point reading this book I decided there was no point to my being a novelist. I mean, I am incapable of writing like this, so why bother. I got over it, perhaps to literature's detriment.

The Chrysanthemum Palace by Bruce Wagner He's a terrific writer. But the story didn't seem to keep my attention like I wished it had. He says something almost nice about Michael, though.

Digging to America by Anne Tyler Can I just be Anne Tyler? She's exactly the kind of novelist I want to be.

Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam Wow. Terrific book. Great writer. And, um, I can't believe how miserable these people are.

The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty It is truly pathetic that I haven't read this book until now. I'm a moron.

Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb How can I not have heard of this terrific writer until now???

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby Nick Hornby just cracks me up.

Oh the Glory of it all by Sean Wilsey Ok, I have to admit it, this is not a book I would normally pick up, but Melissa at Diesel (a fabulous local bookstore-unlike Black Oak which is a nightmarish local bookstore owned by a truly vile cretin who screamed at us last time we were there spending over one hundred dollars in his store because our children had pulled about ten books off the shelf in the children's section. We were happy to clean it up, we always do, and a little confused at the abuse.) insisted I read it. She was so completely right. It's amazing. Truly hysterical and sad. I'm planning my comment to Dede Wilsey should I ever meet her. "Oh you're the toxic witch I've read so much about."

The Nimrod Flip Out by Etgar Keret These stories are terrific and weird as hell.

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell I'll read anything this man writes. He's great.