Friday, February 17, 2012

I'm glad February is the shortest month because it has been a disappointment and I would like it to just end already thanks

I have hair like Sylvia Plath's hair. We do not look the same-- my face is not nearly as wicked. But we have the same hair. My hair does not know it's 2012. My hair thinks it's 1960.

I read some things. Flannery by Brad Gooch. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. The Adults by Alison Espach. I'm still working on Sylvia Plath's journals but honestly that book is really big and hard to carry around, so it might have to wait for summer.

I love reading biographies, but I tend to get caught up reading so much fiction that I don't read as many as I would like. I've actually been meaning to read Flannery since it came out a few years ago, when I saw the New York Times book review on it. By the way, if you're interested in the book and don't already know a lot about O'Connor's life, don't read the NYT review. It ruins everything. It's fun to be surprised, even in a biography, and it's much more enjoyable to be guided by Gooch's narrative than the breakneck facts of the review, which spends more time talking about O'Connor's life than the quality of the book itself.

It's a very good book, benefiting from a fascinating subject. O'Connor's presence dominates the book. I could sense her on every page, hear her voice drawling out the many quoted letters, conversations, etc. She's a formidable character. If I took anything from the book, it's that I'm not sure if I would have liked Flannery O'Connor the person (as opposed to the writer), but I sure as hell would have respected her, had I known her.  Gooch covers a lot of ground in a not-huge book (unlike most biographies of writers, which tend toward tomes). The only thing that caught me off guard was how brief the section about O'Connor at Iowa was because I expected it to be more than a focus, but I suspect that was more about a balance of information and what was important rather than a stylistic choice on Gooch's part for any reason.

If you have any interest in biographies of writers, this is a really good one to check out. You might want to get a copy of O'Connor's collected stories while you're at it because reading the biography makes you want to discover/revisit her writing in a big way.

The Adults by Alison Espach is a book that I heard about all last year. It's kind of a big deal, reviewed everywhere, the whole bit. I came across a copy in the library the other day, snatched it up, and read it in a day. I had my concerns when I started. There's a lot of voice going on. I was worried that it was going to be all voice, all look how clever I can be, isn't everyone so quirky? Thankfully, the book did a lot more than that.

The Adults follows Emily Vidal, a young woman living in a wealthy Connecticut suburb (and later Prague). I personally enjoyed the section about Emily in high school more than I did the rest of the novel, but overall I really enjoyed it. Emily was lost, screwed up, compelling. The language throughout the book was stunning. No one really talks like people in The Adults talk, but that's a good thing. It's simultaneously how you wish your life would work and the last way you want your life to work.

I would review this more, but seriously, everyone did already. Everyone. If you want reviews, go read those (NYT, Washington Post, etc). Better yet, go read the book. It's good, I promise. You'll like it.

I am reading other things now! I am, as usual, reading so many things that I can barely keep track. I would really like to be one of those people who starts one book and goes until she finishes it, then starts the next. I have yet to succeed at that plan. Right now I am reading:

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (I read half of this last semester, and I'm trying to finish it up. I don't know why it's taking so long. I really like it. Reading Flannery made me want to read all sorts of southern writers from that time period.)
Ayiti by Roxane Gay
The Raising by Laura Kasischke
Ms. Hempel Chronicles by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum

I'm also reading Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman and a bunch of Jane Eyre criticism, but that's all for my independent study so it doesn't really count.

If you like writers and blogs, you should read my writing soul-twin's blog. Her name is Joellyn and she is fabulous, also a writing student, all that good stuff. She's been published places. Check it out. She's also the one who loaned me Ayiti because I have no money to buy it, so I have to thank her for that too.

Especially Freeing

Okay, so that's all.

-Taylor

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