"We still take pleasure in make-believe and in the telling of tales, even tall ones, if only because they tell us something true about ourselves, a truth that perhaps we can grasp through no other medium."- Eric Ormsby, in today's WSJ review of Gabriel Josipovici's What Ever Happened to Modernism?
September 26, 2010
August 19, 2010
"I love New York on summer afternoons when everyone's away. There's something very sensuous about it - overripe, as if all sorts of funny fruits were going to fall into your hands."True. I love New York in August, despite the heat and gross smells. So many people are away - and yet no matter how many people are away, Midtown, as always, is so crowded you can barely push your way down the sidewalk. It is exactly what I love and hate most about New York.- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 1925
I recently started a job at a big publishing company - a job I've been hoping for, and working towards, for so long that I never thought this day would come. So far, it has been wonderful (and busy); I am loving everything about it. The feeling that my dedication to finding a job in this industry has finally paid off - after all the times I doubted and cursed myself - is so great that I feel I'm going to burst with relief. Best immediate prize for getting this job: the Take shelves scattered around my office, which are exactly what they sound like - shelves where you can just take any and all the books that you like. Hundreds of books. For the taking. It is magical.
Recently read (and soon to be written about, I swear): Rachel Shukert's Everything Is Going To Be Great, Tana French's Faithful Place, Sara Gruen's Water For Elephants, Douglas Adam's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, plus the bunch of books I read over the past few months that I never got to. They're a-comin'.
Currently reading: Joshua Ferris's Then We Came To The End. Phenomenal.
July 31, 2010
Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?
- Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
It seems almost pointless to talk about how much I love Harry Potter, because everyone loves Harry Potter, and all the books are indisputably amazing. But I do love Harry Potter. I couldn’t even count all the times I have read them; they are like my comfort food in book form. As do so many of my generation, I feel like I grew up with Harry (and thus always remember on July 31 that it is Harry’s birthday!). I remember reading the first two books in 7th grade, then anxiously awaiting every one since - had our family vacations abroad not always fallen on every new book's release day, I would have been at those midnight parties too. It was a very sad day when I finished Deathly Hallows for the first time (after waiting outside a Munich bookstore at 7 am on its release day); having to accept that I was an adult, and that this huge part of my adolescence was over with, was not easy. I now try to limit my rereading of the books (usually 5 through 7 now, its been a while since I read the first 4) to once a year. I can only handle the vicious cycle of the excitement of reading them followed by the depressing letdown of finishing them (and reentering real life) so often. Well, at least I have the final two movies to look forward to (so excited – this trailer gives me CHILLS).
July 28, 2010
"I don't know."
"I don't know what I'm looking for."
"Because ... because ... I think it might be because if I knew I wouldn't be able to look for them."
"What, are you crazy?"
"It's a possibility I haven't ruled out yet,"- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
July 27, 2010
One Day is the story of Emma and Dexter, who first truly connect on July 15, 1988, the day of their graduation. The book consists of all the following July 15ths (incidentally, the day I received One Day in the mail and started reading it) for the next twenty years; snapshots of where they are in their lives and what their relationship to each other is at that moment. Emma, the idealistic working class girl, is the absolute opposite of the rich, entitled Dexter. But from that first July 15th, the enduring importance of their relationship – as best friends, lovers and/or everything in between – is clear. As they try to navigate their twenties and thirties through all kinds of failures and successes, they become more and more vital to each other’s existence. Dexter especially – selfish, self-destructive Dexter – is only worthwhile when he is with Emma. And yet, their timing is so often very off, and their successes so often directly mirror the other one’s failures. You get a sense each year of a continuing cycle in which Dexter’s happiness is correlated to Emma’s misery, and vice versa; like their lives are two lines weaving, with the two of them (and us) waiting to meet in the middle.
Like Starter for Ten, One Day is often laugh-out-loud funny, but also impossibly heartbreaking. The kind of book that you finish and you need to just sit with for a while and catch your breath (and sob, if you’re me). Also like Starter for Ten, I became so completely invested in the characters that my moods were contingent on the state of their lives. Like only the best fiction does, it is the kind of book that’s biggest effect is in what it makes you think about your own life. Apart from being purely relatable (like in Starter for Ten, I was amazed by Nicholls’ ability to write exactly how it feels to be in your early twenties), it makes you (aka made me) think about all kinds of past relationships, and how you never know how things can and will end up, or what direction your life will go in. At the risk of overstating how good a book it is (though I think I passed that point a while back), all I can say is that I loved loved loved One Day.
July 26, 2010
July 21, 2010
"All good books have one thing in common - they are truer than if they had really happened."
Thanks to Overlook Press’s Twitter feed, I learned this morning that today was Ernest Hemingway’s birthday. It kind of bizarrely put me in a better mood following a discouraging morning; I really love Hemingway. I think its partly because I’m Cuban (and he did love Cuba/ writing about and in Cuba), partly because I love Fitzgerald (and the friendship/ hatred between them), partly because I’m fascinated by Modernist literature and writers (American Modernism in particular), and partly because I just love (most of) his writing.
I’ve recently been rereading a bunch of his short stories in an old copy of The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories from my Dad’s bookshelf. The title story is really incredible in a uniquely Hemingway-way; as the narrator, a writer, quickly approaches death while on an African safari, he looks back on his life with anger and bitterness over what he has neglected to accomplish. As with so much of his writing, Hemingway himself is always only just beneath the surface of his fiction in this story.
It is another story of his, however, that I always find so powerful in its simplicity (like a lot of his writing). “A Day’s Wait” is only two pages long, but I remember first reading it years ago and it always sticking with me. Rather than listen to me summarize it, I say take the two extra minutes to read the story here. It is prime example of how Hemingway has a way of taking simple, mundane things (whether it is the thorn that ultimately kills the narrator of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” or the confusion over temperature measurements in “A Days Wait”) and turning them into meditations on life and death (but mostly death). I’m glad you were born today, Ernest! (And that you wrote so much before you killed yourself.)