w.w. reading / november


i'm aiming to read these six (at least) in november: "static" by amy goodman, "the book that changed my life" ed. by roxanne coady (that's the one i'm most looking forward to), "drawing dead to a gutshot" by brant janeway, "uncivilized beasts and shameless hellions" by john f. burnett, "tyrants: the world's 20 worst living dictators" by david wallechinsky, and "ghostly ruins: america's forgotten architecture" by harry skrdla (another winner from princeton architectural press). but mainly i'm reading magazines and websites these days.


I'm reading Chas Pierce's witty book Moving the Chains which is a non hagiographic look at NE Patriot QB Tom Brady and

although I have managed to stock my book shelf with most of Richard Powers's oeuvre, I am finally getting around to reading him, mainly his newest opus, The Echomaker, and

Heidi Julavits' third novel, The Rules of Enchantment and

as the topic of memory and history has become increasingly interesting to me I am reading Jay Winters's Remembering War and also his book on minor utopian movements of the 20th century, Dreams of Peace and Freedom and

I loved The 6th Lamentation by Wm Broderick, so despite my aversion to series I am reading his In The Gardens of The Dead and

same goes for Mike Connelly regarding his new tome, Echo Park,

For those of you unfamiliar with Tom Englehardt's dispatches, they are well worth reading.

There was also the Ian Parker profile of Chris Hitchens in a recent New Yorker as well as Robert Stone's remembrance of his stint as a schlock journalist.

Ivan Brunnetti's Anthology of Graphic Fiction is a great compendium and in fact the folks at Yale U press could keep me occupied indefinitely with their Yale Book of Quotations and same with the Oxford University Press with the New Book of Literary Anecdotes.


Platte River - Rick Bass
Ravens In Winter - Bernd Heinrich
Micro Fiction - Jerome Stern
I can't Go on, I'll Go on - Sam Beckett


I'm reading

Mountains beyond Mountains (still) by Tracy Kidder


The Family That Couldn't Sleep
by D. T. Max


I have a stack of borrowed books on my bedside table, and I'm afraid I'm mostly reading their spines these days. William Cronon's Natures Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West, though, prompted me to make my own purchase. I also plan to crack my new copy of A William Maxwell Portrait, ed. Charles Baxter et al. Judging by its discounted price, I take it this book didn't do terribly well, which is a shame. It's a collected volume of essays commemorating the life and work of Maxwell, and Ellen Bryant Voigt's "Angel Child" is a sensitive and smart inquiry into Maxwell's mastery of syntax and the careful art of making a sentence. Just the other evening browsing my own dusty shelves, I found a 1981 interview with Maxwell from the Writers at Work series, so I'll be reading that too.


I've actually jumped into a bit of nonfiction lately. "My Love Affair with Modern Art" is the memoir of Katherine Kuh (edited by Avis Berman) recounting the life of the the first curator of modern painting and sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago, an art editor of the Saturday Review (as well as the first woman to take on such a role in art criticism and curating). I really enjoyed this book not only because it is a vividly written personal account of the creative activity taking place, but an intimate look at some of the most influential artists of the contemporary era. Kuh had the ear of artists such as Rotkko, Klee, Noguchi, Van der Rohe among others (the book is split into chapters on each artist).

Right now I'm plugging away at "Another Day in the Frontal Lobe" by Katrina Firlik, the first woman to be in the neorsurgery program of UPMC. The book is written in a conversational style and is pretty palatable to the layman...lots of interesting anecdotes and stories about her experiences. A bit dry in a couple parts but as far as science for the masses books go, pretty good.


Having finished a good quota of zombie reading last month, I've moved on to Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. A friend gave this to me a year or more ago, but things came up (as things do) and I never got there. So much so that in fact Robinson's Gilead came out during this time, and I read that first. Gilead was stunning, one of the finest books I've read perhaps ever. Which truly primed me for Housekeeping. But I didn't want to go into it right after Gilead. Appropriate pause now done, I'm under way. And finding that it is everything everyone said it was. It's not as appealing to me as Gilead, but no less of a fine read.

On the heels of Housekeeping I plan on opening Penelope Fitzgerald's The Bookstore (from one elder lady author of slim, beautful volumes to another). I am a great admirer of the late Ms. Fitzgerald, so am looking forward to this one. I believe it was her first (although I could have that wrong).


I am about to finish Jennifer Haigh's Baker Towers, about a family in a small, western Pennsylvania coal-mining town around the 1940's. I went to college in western PA, and I love the time period. I also just finished J. Robert Lennon's Happyland, serialized in Harper's. For the future, there's a bio of Wiliam Carlos Williams sitting on my bedside table that I may decide to start. Or, I could go outside, play a sport, build a model airplane; you know, that kind of thing.

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