Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What are you reading?

Philadelphia Weekly asked a bunch of people, one of whom was me, what they're reading this summer. I was totally okay with admitting to reading Slash's autobiography (Slash, naturally), among other things. What are you all reading?


  1. Anonymous11:15 AM

    Currently reading Stieg Larsson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and Bruce Bawer's "While Europe Slept". I recently finished Douglas Preston's "Monster of Florence". Next up, David Wroblewski's "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle".

  2. I just finished a little book that Frank recommended: Strangely Orthodox: R.S. Thomas and his poetry of faith, by Barry Morgan. Morgan says that Thomas ". . . often compared writing poetry to an encounter with God. At times it seems to happen without great effort, yet other times God's presence is felt only after a long period of contemplating and searching. As he himself puts it in 'Kneeling':

    "Moments of great calm,
    Kneeling before an altar
    Of wood in a stone church
    In summer, waiting for the God
    To speak; the air a staircase
    For silence; the sun’s light
    Ringing me, as though I acted
    A great rôle. And the audiences
    Still; all that close throng
    Of spirits waiting, as I,
    For the message.
    Prompt me, God;
    But not yet. When I speak,
    Though it be you who speak
    Through me, something is lost.
    The meaning is in the waiting."

  3. I started out the summer very optimistic--I was going to read all of James Baldwin, start to finish. It was great, but then I got waylaid after his 1968 novel. Mostly b/c I've been writing more than reading since then. I'm writing about New Jersey, so I've been reading some for background: The Meadowlands by Robert Sullivan, and Mysteries of my Father by Thomas Fleming. I highly recommend both.

  4. Philip, are any of those books you'd recommend? I read a book this summer that I can highly recommend: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel. It's a graphic novel—not a novel at all, but a memoir—that is highly literary and told in an intelligent, not-obvious, nonlinear way but is also simply truthful and very moving.

    Dave, that book sounds good. I only know of one R.S. Thomas poem—I think Frank shared it with me, actually—and I liked it so much I typed it up and stuck it on my fridge:

    "Children's Song"

    We live in our own world,
    A world that is too small
    For you to stoop and enter
    Even on hands and knees,
    The adult subterfuge.
    And though you probe and pry
    With analytic eye,
    And eavesdrop all our talk
    With an amused look,
    You cannot find the centre
    Where we dance, where we play,
    Where life is still asleep
    Under the closed flower,
    Under the smooth shell
    Of eggs in the cupped nest
    That mock the faded blue
    Of your remoter heaven.

  5. Oh, thanks, Karen. I wonder what you're writing about New Jersey. You don't have to tell if it's in the vault while you work on it—but if you want to talk about it I'd like to hear.

  6. Anonymous12:05 PM

    Larsson's book is very interesting and well written (I ordered mine from the UK but it's also available for pre-order at Amazon) - my understanding is that it is the first book of a trilogy the next installment of which will be published next year. FYI, some info on the writer:
    Also, for those interested in current affairs Bawer's book looks at the rise of radical Islam in Europe - it is alarming to read and highly recommended if that sort of thing is your cup of tea.
    Finally, Preston tells quite a tale in his book, although the writing is not too great at times. Dateline aired a show on this case and it can be seen online here:

  7. Anonymous2:36 PM

    I am currently reading "Time Will Darken It" by William Maxwell. This summer I have read "Out Stealing Horses" by Per Patterson, "Peace" by Richard Bausch, "The Post-Office Girl" by Stefan Zweig. Any suggestions please leave a post!

  8. Anonymous4:39 PM

    Finished "The Stolen Child" by Keith Donohue a bit ago. It's the Collingswood Town Book and it was right up my alley. At first you might think it's light fantasy fiction. But no! Dig in! This book is brilliantly plotted and beautifully rendered. Now I'm in the middle of "Garbage Land" by Elizabeth Royte. Her new book is "Bottlemania," about the bottled water industry. Both authors will be at the Collingswood Book Festival on October 4!

  9. Hey, thanks for your comments, everyone. Philip, I had a look at Larsson's website, and his life/ideals and books do sound interesting. Thank you for passing that along. A trilogy is a treat if you turn out to like the first one!

    jap—I have never read anything by William Maxwell. Maybe I should. I don't know much about him but I always heard his name around my house growing up because my mom loved to read The New Yorke. His name evokes something romantic and impressive for me.

  10. I was recently invited to join Amazon vine where customers can choose free products with an obligation to review them, so I just read a pre-release version of City of Refuge by Tom Piazza. It's about Hurricane Katrina and due to be released next month by Harper. I'm one tough customer when it comes to fiction, but I thought it was extremely well-written and definitely recommend that everyone watch for it when it comes out.

  11. John B. Gordon's 'Reminiscences of the Civil War'

  12. Anonymous8:04 AM

    Philip, I read "Edgar Sawtelle" a couple of weeks ago and was blown away. I read a couple of books a week (reviewer), so I see a lot of good stuff, but this first novel by Wroblewski is the best fiction I have read in years. It's in my pantheon of best-evers and I've been buying copies for everyone I know.

    Right now I'm reading Rose Tremain's "The Road Home" (will be out in two weeks) and it's her usual good writing, but a little slow in the beginning.

    Other good books I've read this summer: "The Other" by David Guterson; "What Was Lost" by Catherine O'Flynn; and two great thrillers by Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine: "The Minotaur" and "Anna's Book."

    Katie, I read the Bechdel a few months ago and LOVED it. Makes me want to do an illustrated novel like that. Really does add another dimension with the pix there. What do you think of graphic novels? I also liked the one for "Thirty Days of Night."