Recent reads: February 2023
I’ve been reading more slowly lately, probably reading overall a little less, and it’s been good to take my time through books. I’m also spending a lot of time on poetry and rereading it, which I’ll probably post about at some point. For now, here’s what I’ve read lately that I’ve enjoyed in some fashion, at least enough to finish the books.
A Visit From The Goon Squad
Since everyone was talking at the end of last year about Jennifer Egan’s latest release (The Candy House), I decided to read her earlier book first. This is one of those books where I was reading for quite a long time not really sure what was going on and where it was going, but the final chapter made it all worth it. I would totally understand if you couldn’t make it there though, the threads are so loose that get tied together that at times I wasn’t sure how in world it would come together. We follow Bernie and Sasha throughout their lives as they work together, their stories before they work together, and where they go after that. Each chapter takes you to a different time in one of their lives, even if you don’t see the connection right away. And the end was great.
The subtitle to this book is A Novel of the Plague which may be a bit off putting but Maggie O’Farrell has a way of taking a tiny bit of history and creating a fascinating story. In this case it’s the fact that Shakespeare’s son died in 1596. She uses that to imaging what his life was like in a period where there isn’t much known about it and to write about the plague. His wife, Agnes, is an unusual woman and it seems like such a good fit as Shakespeare is unusual in some ways himself. The story is beautifully told and I’d like to think that Hamlet is somewhat based on these ideas, but how could we ever really know.
Principles of Uncertainty
I wanted to like this book, I loved the art, but I didn’t love it all together as a book and I’m still not sure I can put my finger on why. But I’ve paged back through it a lot to ponder the artwork and the way in which Maira Kalman portrays life in New York and other places.
The Round House
An incredibly difficult read which starts off with horrific violence and then we see how a family reacts. We follow Joe as he navigates massive upheaval in his family and his lust for vengeance on behalf of his mother. At the same time we see how truly difficult it is to prosecute someone for crimes against Native Americans and how the jurisdictional issues can lead to never getting satisfaction. Erdrich’s fantastic writing kept me going in this one and the relationship between Joe and his friends, which is captured so beautifully.