I Have a Problem
I’ve put a self-imposed physical book-buying ban on myself. I’m still working, still parenting, so it’s not as though I have extra time to actually read these books. As I run to the door and sweep the packages up in my arms, I hear my myriad unread books weeping.
The ban was triggered when realized I am currently waiting for 20 books to arrive. To put that into perspective, I’ve only read 35 books so far this year. How many of those have been purchased, physical books? Only 10. By that logic, it’s going to take me at least a year to read the books I have ordered, and that’s if I don’t get distracted by the aforementioned weeping books, or the best library in the world (LAPL, obviously), or Audible, or NetGalley, or the ebooks that I will inevitably buy (and truthfully, have already bought) during this period.
If anyone is remotely interested in what books I’ve foolishly purchased, there’s a list at the bottom of this entry.
Your support is greatly appreciated at this time.
A reminder that I am reading a short story (almost) every day, and my spreadsheet is here. I’m at over 700 stories now, woo!
I have found an almost flawless short story collection, and it is Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell. Out of the eight stories, three immediately made it to my “Favorites” tab. And I need to re-read one of the stories that didn’t make it to my favorites because I’m not convinced I paid full attention to it. I haven’t bashed through a collection so fast since Julia Armfield’s Salt Slow. Weird, gorgeous, genuinely moving. It’s going to be a tough act to follow.
I love it when people recommend their favorite short story collections on Twitter, and recently Paul Tremblay did just that. I was familiar with most of his recommendations, but a collection by Karen Joy Fowler caught my attention. One of Fowler’s novels, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, is one of the most memorable novels I’ve read in the past ten years, so I was confident I’d enjoy her more compact works.
I was absolutely not ready for the brilliance of her story, The Pelican Bar. The last few paragraphs were so mind-bending that I had to read them numerous times to fully process them. I can’t find the story online, but if you can get your hands on Fowler’s collection, What I Didn’t See, it’s the first story in there. Then let me know when you’ve read it so we can yell at each other about it.
It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mother’s
I’m immensely enjoying Lisa Blower’s collection, It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mother’s. I absolutely love the title, and had absolutely no idea what it meant until I looked it up (it’s apparently means “it looks like rain”, in Shropshire). Blower’s writing has been compared to that of Alan Bennett, so this was an immediate purchase for me, thank you very much!
As much as I love my life in California, I do occasionally enjoy reminders of unique British idiosyncrasies, and quirky characteristics. Two stories have especially stood out so far; Dirty Laundry, where a woman takes early retirement from a launderette, possibly against her wishes, and Johnny Dangerously which reminded me of childhood japes, and neighborhood heroes. The stories are mostly very short, and incredibly interesting. It is impossible not to hear the very distinct voices in every tale.
I mentioned in my last entry that I was excited about You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce. I can confirm that the book is ABSOLUTELY bonkers in the best way. Who wouldn’t be interested in a story about a woman married to her possibly-imaginary friend, with loads of weird murders and family tension? Oh, and don’t forget that the whole story is narrated via the protagonist’s last will and testament, which her niece and nephew are forced to read to cash in on their inheritance! Just brilliant. I loved every mad minute of it. Bravo, Ms. Bruce. You’ve got a new fan right here.
I’m currently reading Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, by Deepa Anappara. Filled with vibrant dialogue, child detectives, mysterious disappearances, with a slightly supernatural vibe, this book is an absolutely joy to read so far.
My husband, AKA the enabler, encouraged me to get a fancy Kindle Oasis, so I bloody did. I know the content is the most important thing, blah blah blah, but I actually hugged my Oasis yesterday, so make of that what you will. If you’re thinking of making the investment, I urge you to do so.
Book Riot’s TBR service continues to amaze me. $15 a quarter, and you get three personalized book recommendations and a lovingly written letter. I genuinely look forward to receiving the recommendations, and they work very hard to find things I’ve never heard of (and succeed most of the time).
I finally got Ducks, Newburyport. Will I ever complete it? Probably not, but it’s nice to have the option.
It looks like Sarah Moss’s new book, Summerwater, won’t come out in the US until January 2021. Oh HELL no! If you’re a stateside-based Moss fan, I can recommend ordering from Blackwells, as their prices include shipping to the US. Once again, I cannot believe people who aren’t me have read this book. I’m furious.
Manchester-based indie press Nightjar have released some new chapbooks. They are always great value. Grab them while you can.
One of my favorite books of last year, Lucie McKnight Hardy’s Water Shall Refuse Them, has been optioned by Lime Picture TV, to adapt into a TV series. WHOA MOMMA! Get this book, it’s an absolute treat.
Other books on my radar at the moment – Ring Shout, The Lesson, A Children’s Bible, Boys of Alabama, Pondweed (by the aforementioned Lisa Blower).
The Books I’m Currently Waiting For, or The Extent of My Problem
- The Cathedral of Myth and Bone – Kat Howard
- Burning Your Boats – Angela Carter
- Show Them a Good Time – Nicole Flattery
- The Boatman’s Daughter – Andy Davidson
- The Future is Female – edited by Lisa Yaszek
- The Heart and Other Viscera – Felix J. Palma
- The Magic Toyshop – Angela Carter
- You Have Never Been Here – Mary Rickert
- What I Didn’t See – Karen Joy Fowler
- After the Apocalypse – Maureen McHugh
- Flake – Matthew Dooley
- The Hearing Trumpet – Leonora Carrington
- You People – Nikita Lalwani
- The Offing – Benjamin Myers
- The Library Book – Susan Orlean
- The Wash – Daniel Gothard
- Hide – Roberta Dewa
- Ghost and Ruins – Ben Catmull