Patti Smith spoke at a church in Berkeley and did an impromptu musical performance. Her self-deprecating humor was exquisitely charming. Her book, M Train, is about nothing. Really, on page one, first paragraph, first sentence, she writes, “It’s not so easy writing about nothing.” (Smith, 1). I devoured M Train. I was on vacation in New Mexico reading it, at my Aunt’s ranch, sitting on the porch, drinking coffee out of my deceased Uncle’s mug. Everything felt so connected, so immediately relevant. And yet, I suspect I would relate to this book and connect everything wherever I was while reading it.
Paul Beatty’s brilliant satire, The Sellout is about a present-day man who accidentally acquires a slave and loves his former town so much that he physically redefines its town lines and reinstitutes segregation. I bought the book because it sounded like a thought-provoking and challenging satire, one of the cover blurbs, called it “Swiftian satire of the highest order.” I assumed I would appreciate the humor and the authorial voice, but detest the protagonist. But Beatty created an incredibly likable character, one that truly means well but can’t help when strange things happen to him (like having a suicidal man he saved pledge his life as a slave to him). He ends up in the Supreme Court as a result of his trying to improve his community. Continue reading
Chuck Palahniuk‘s Fight Club 2 begins ten years after Fight Club the novel ends. The artwork by Cameron Stewart is amazing: at times I feel I’m experiencing a movie. The set up scenery is dizzying. The narrator Sebastian works a 9-5 job, is married to Marla Singer, and together they have a son. Sebastian sees a therapist weekly and is heavily medicated to keep Tyler Durden at bay. He suspects his wife is cheating on him and discovers that she is: Marla has been messing with his meds, resurrecting Tyler Durden.
“At the time not a soul in sleeping Holcomb heard them—four shotgun blasts that, all told, ended six human lives. But afterward the townspeople, theretofore sufficiently unfearful of each other to seldom trouble to lock their doors, found fantasy re-creating them over and again—those somber explosions that stimulated fires of mistrust in the glare of which many old neighbors viewed each other strangely, and as strangers.” (Capote, 5)
Starting last year I began keeping track of all the books I’ve bought. Every year I think I’ve curbed my book buying, but each year I realize I’ve bought around the same amount.
It’s an addiction that I’ve learned to live with. I avoid book browsing for months at a time but once I walk into a bookshop, I take a deep breath and smell the fresh books. It’s both welcoming and comforting.