A Textbook Project (really, it’s not as dull as you imagine!)
April 20, 2014
Wyoming is the State that Keeps on Giving (at least when it comes to censorship)
May 15, 2014
Reading, Writing and (some) Arithmetic
November 23, 2015
I was once asked how many hours a week I spend writing. I answered that in a good week, maybe 40—really. But this count depends on my notion that writing involves putting words on a page, as well as attending to the world with the focus of a writer and reading the works of others with the attitude of a writer.
I read 35 or 40 books a year eclectically distributed across nonfiction (mostly), fiction (increasingly), and poetry (sparingly). I’ve kept a list of the books I’ve read since I began writing seriously in 2000 (the total stands at 588 books). So, I thought I might share the books that I’ve read in the last few months.
For each of these, I offer a six-word review. Why six? I’ve long been fascinated by Ernest Hemingway’s six-word tale, which he considered perhaps his finest story: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Since Hemingway, there have been various ventures into six-word writing (stories, memoirs, music reviews, etc.) so my format is not unique—but it was fun. And although writing is usually agonizing, sometimes it should be fun.
The Lifespan of a Fact (John D’Agata): A good essay; an ok book.
About at Mountain (John D’Agata): Nicely crafted, even the true parts.
The Boat (Nam Le): Read this before closing the borders.
The Cutie (Donald Westlake): Yes, crime noir can be literature.
Memory (Donald Westlake): Forgetting is so softly, heartbreakingly dark.
The Man Who Quit Money (Mark Sundeen): Works fine if others have it.
The Making of Toro (Mark Sundeen): Funny, painfully true writing about writing.
The Spirit Bird (Kent Nelson): Heartfelt moments but can’t remember much.
Collections of Nothing (William Davies King): Soulful, provocative celebration of human packrat.
Mount Analogue (Rene Daumal): Great buildup to an unwritten ending.
We are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Karen joy Fowler): Poignant, bizarre tale of family’s love.
Even the Wicked (Lawrence Block): Magnificent mystery by a genius storyteller.
Great Feuds in Science (Hal Hellerman): Pissing matches don’t make great reading.
The Perfect Storm (Sebastian Unger): Ego, courage, denial, dysfunction and testosterone.
A Walk Among the Tombstones (Lawrence Block): Power is relative; violence is absolute.
I’m Here to Learn to Dream in Your Language (HL Hix): I never get, but always love, Hix.
Ley Lines (HL Hix): Writing about art can be synergistic.
The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis (Ruth DeFries): Long answer
searching for short question.
History of Opera (Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker): Enchanting trees but not much forest.
Cold Service (Robert Parker): Brilliant characters: the soul of mystery.
Double Deuce [reading now] (Robert Parker): No mystery about author’s serious research.