Thursday, May 5, 2011

Recent Reads

(image taken from Amazon)

To Hemingway, Paris is a movable feast; to Miller, it is an orifice, some deep emotional and intellectual and philosophical and physical crevice to be explored, ventured into with abandon. The narrative style is fluid, flowing from experience to experience, conquest to conquest, hotel hovel to hotel hovel, in a sort of stream of consciousness. Originally banned in the United States and deemed pornographic, you will be hard pressed to find another sample of literature where elegant, beautiful statues of prose, expounding on fundamental political, social, cultural, and physiological definitions of being an American, and an American living abroad, are coupled with potentially vulgar or mildly offensive descriptions of the male and female anatomy. I cannot wait to read more.

(image taken from Salem Press)

When I was at university, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet Mr. Simic, former United States Poet Laureate, and attend an intimate question and answer session. The humor flirting across the pages of his collections is palpable in person, his eyes a bastion of this wry nature and aptitude for unique and comically beautiful observations of human nature and the mechanics of this world. This book is a compilation of his previous collections, and while I enjoyed the evolution of his approach to language, to imagery, to content, I tend to enjoy his earlier poems the most.

(image taken from Leonard Shoup)

If you enjoyed the psychological analysis of Sybil, rather popular a few decades ago, Shirley Jackson's portrayal of a troubled young woman who dissociates into multiple personalities will be intriguing. I read this following an anthology of her collected short fiction, which I prefer, however, she maintains a sharp sense of narrative arc and development of complex characters in the novel form.

(image taken from Heritage Auctions)

Lorrie Moore made her debut, and subsequently created a powerful reputation, utilizing specific literary devices; in her first short story collection, her use of the second person is her signature, her cohesive narrative voice, and she wields the tool adeptly. Here, she proves this flair for harnessing such devices was indeed no beginning luck fluke; as the title suggests, the novel is structured as a literary anagram, where character traits and relationships are shuffled from chapter to chapter. She begins with four short vignettes, before settling into the last arrangement of characters, situations, relationships, and details, and fleshing them out in a longer form. Her imagery and her explorations, particularly those coping with aging and a shifting feminine physicality and sexuality, are acute and lovely, her wit sharp.

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