Ondaatje, Amis, and Autobiography: What Bauman’s Reading this Month

There were three novels back there: Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje, House of Meetings by Martin Amis, and Our Lady of the Forest by David Guterson. I won't belabor except to say I truly enjoyed all three. Especially, of course, the new Ondaatje. He is, really, breathtaking.

Since then, it has been the month of autobiography. I started with My Life, by President Bill. I bought this house of a book the very week it came out; I wanted to put Bill on the bestseller list, to flip the bird at Dubya. But it's a very big book. So I kind of put off reading it. For a few years. Did it this month, though. A marathon to be sure, but worthwhile. I just like Bill. So there.

A few weeks ago we had the whole family in Manhattan for an evening of doings, and whilst waiting for the train home my wife picked up Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas. We have three dogs (four, actually, on the property). Brenda loved it, so I dug in. And was very pleasantly surprised. Abigail Thomas has a new fan. My favorite part, I think, was about Outsider Art, and art by the mad. Both in the description of the art (similar stuff hanging on our own walls) and in the mad place we all create from.

And from there to a memoir by Bill Strickland, Ten Points. Strickland is the managing editor of Bicycle magazine. I'm not a big sports fan or a bicyclist myself. But Brenda (again) heard him on Marty Moss-Coane's radio program one day and thought of me. Which, if you've read the book, isn't exactly a compliment. Just an observation. So on the heels of Abigail Thomas I dug into Strickland, and I'm there now, and it is difficult. Not the book, Strickland is a fine writer…the subject matter. It's never easy looking in the looking glass, and that's what I feel like I'm doing every time I pick this thing up.

On deck I plan to start the new year slightly fantastically. First, I'm reading aloud to my younger daughter A Wrinkle in Time, which I last read when I was maybe ten years old. On my own, I have on the nightstand Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman (which my older daughter has been trying to get me to read for years), to be followed by A Canticle for Leibowitz, which I somehow missed out on back when I should have read it. My friend Kirk loaned it to me after a conversation about Lazarus we had over cigars on New Year's Eve night.

-Christian Bauman

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