Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2001 Part 2

I had been thinking that instead of going year by year, I would go book by book, but it's fun to see what kind of reading streaks I go through.

11. Duane's Depressed (novel) - Larry McMurtry. McMurtry returns to the crowd in Thalia. They're getting older and their lives are getting sadder, but still chaotic.

12. The Stone Angel (novel) - Margaret Laurence. Whoops! LitAmnesia! I'm really ashamed of not remembering a novel written by the other great Margaret of Canada. Blush.

13. Texasville (novel) - Larry McMurtry. 30 years after The Last Picture Show, Thalia's in the middle of planning the 100th anniversary of their county, but there's uneasiness because the area has gone from oil boom to oil bust. Jacy shows up in town again, sadder and wiser, but complicating life as always.

14. All Over But The Shoutin' (memoir) - Rick Bragg. Bragg, a veteran journalist, writes about his hardscrabble upbringing in Georgia. He has a way of writing very movingly without getting corny or maudlin.

15. Walter Benjamin At The Dairy Queen (nonfiction) - Larry McMurtry. McMurtry writes about his life as a reader and details what life was like after heart surgery. His health and mental state were so affected that he didn't feel like reading for five years.

16. Buffalo Girls (novel) - Larry McMurtry. The Old West as seen from "Calamity" Jane's point of view in letters to her daughter Janey, whose father was Wild Bill Hickok.

17. Back When We Were Grownups (novel) - Anne Tyler. Rebecca Davitch got married to a widower when she was very young and was pressed into both his family and the family business. When he died and left her a young widow, she carried on with everything. She always, but even more now, wonders what her "real" life would have been like.

18. Max Perkins: Editor of Genius (biography) - A. Scott Berg. Maxwell Perkins was the Superman of editors. He had unfailing good taste, knew how a story should be told and had the uncanny gift of being able to precisely relay that information to the authors he worked with -- a list that reads like "Who's Who In 20th Century American Literature". Furthermore, he knew when authors needed to be handed with kid gloves and when to give them a kind but firm push towards their typewriters. A. Scott Berg seems to have taken Perkins' advice to heart and written a first-rate biography. No doubt his subject would be pleased.

19. Fiona Range (novel) - Mary McGarry Morris. This book was WAY too soap opera in the most annoying way. You know there's a huge secret about Fiona's background from Chapter 1 and you also know that no matter how she misbehaves, she's not really a reprobate -- she's just misunderstood. Sadly, you have to suffer till the second-to-last chapter, wading through a forest full of wooden dialogue.

20. In The Cut (novel) - Susanna Moore. The main character is an English professor who is researching street language and gets caught up in a serial killer case. It's kind of like Joyce Carol Oates lite.

21. The Book Of Zines: Readings From The Fringe (nonfiction) Chip Rowe, editor. A fun look at several great zines including Mystery Date and Beer Frame. You can read scholarly tongue-kind-of-in-cheek analyses of your favorite sitcoms.

22. The Father And The Son (memoir) - Matt Murray. Murray's widowed father announces to his grown children that he's decided to take orders and become a Roman Catholic priest.


  1. Stone Angel is worth a re-read! Throw in A Jest of God too, while you're at it!