November 2009

I've been reading a ton lately. Mostly because I'm judging a contest and doing research for a novel, but also because I can't seem to decide what to do next. I'm in HBO limbo, I'm in nonfiction limbo. Hard to figure out which direction to turn. Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow A very good novel, if not his best.

Big Machine by Victor La Valle Magnificently original.

The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam A perfect specimen of one of my favorite genres of English novels.

The Sky Below by Stacey D'Erasmo I was very grateful to discover this author.

Auschwitz and After by Charlotte Delbo Very difficult to read. Haunting.

The Informer by Juan Gabriel Vásquez Got off to a terrific start. Then petered out -- for me, that is.

The Confessions of Edward Day by Valerie Martin If you're interested in the theater, you'll enjoy this book.

Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith She's so smart it's scary. She's also charming as well. This essays are magnificent.

Vanessa & Virginia by Susan Sellers As I am Bloomsbury obsessed, I quite enjoyed this.

Ordinary Men by Christopher R. Browning I'm not sure how 'ordinary' they were. Or, rather, I think there is something different, or was something different, about ordinary Germans. But then again, they don't have an exclusive on bigotry and murderousness, do they?

Nazi Women by Cate Haste As bad as the men.

Blame by Michelle Hunevan Great novel!

The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt I love love loved this novel.

Into That Darkness by Gitta Sereny I honestly think every single person in the world should be forced to read this.

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman If you believe this novel, the vast majority of Poles were busy saving Jews. Well, since 90% (YES! THAT MANY) of Polish Jews were exterminated, and since the very few who survived tell us that the vast majority of Poles not only did nothing but applauded the death of the Jews among them, it's hard not to feel like much of this novel is horse-shit. I understand the impulse to glorify the few righteous Gentiles, but the whole point is that there were VERY few of them. That's why they were so amazing. Brave beyond all measure. Anyway, I'm sure this book made a lot of people feel good.

An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah I seem to never get enough of African fiction nowadays.

This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski You want to know what it was really like to be a Pole during the Holocaust? Read this.

The Ask by Sam Lipsyte Super super fun novel.

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell I always enjoy reading him.