Good books lately.

NYT Sunday Book Review features an odd assortment of writers – and includes a fantastic head collage, I loves me the head collages – writing about books they’re reading and enjoying.  Nora Ephron writes most convincingly about her reads:

“The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” by Michael Pollan.
I have tried on countless occasions to convey to my friends how
incredible this book is. I have gone on endlessly about Pollan’s
brilliance in finding a way to write about food — but it’s not really
about food, it’s about everything; in fact, it even has a theory of
everything that makes perfect sense and explains absolutely everything,
as theories of everything are supposed to do … and, what’s more, it’s
completely charming because he has the most amazing voice … well the
point is, I have tried and failed to explain it, so I just end up
giving them a copy, and sooner or later they call to say, you were
right, it’s fantastic.

“The Ministry of Special Cases,”
by Nathan Englander. I guess this is truly what they mean when they say
a novel is long awaited, because I have been waiting for this novel
ever since I read Englander’s short-story collection in (whenever). And
worth waiting for — an amazing amalgam of wit and heart-stopping
suspense, with a cast of characters I fell in love with. Once again, a
description of the plot doesn’t begin to convey what Englander manages
to do with Argentina in the time of the Disappeared. When I began to
near the end of the book, I became truly miserable, and when I was
done, I reread the last 50 pages not once but twice — partly in the
hope that I could make it turn out differently, and partly because I
couldn’t bear that it was over.

I’ve been enjoying a couple of couldn’t-be-more-different-from-each-other books.  You knew I’d get to The Raw Shark Texts, with all the hoo-ha about it clearly being influenced by a couple of Hall’s favorites, Paul Auster and Haruki Murakami.  (You did know, right?)  I’m enjoying it a lot.  I would recommend it (as of halfway through) as a great summer read, with all that nasty term entails, but truly, it’s easygoing and yet has enough intellectual heft to be satisfying in that respect as well.  I don’t know about the whole Auster/Murakami thing – not yet, anyway, though there are some clear nods to City of Glass, and I suspect that the release of the book with two different colors may be a nod to Murakami:

Murakami achieved a major breakthrough and national recognition in 1987 with the publication of Norwegian Wood,
a nostalgic story of loss and sexuality. It sold millions of copies
among Japanese youth, making Murakami something of a superstar in his
native country (to his dismay). The book was printed in two separate
parts, sold together. One book had a green cover, the other a red one.
Some hardcore fans of the book wore clothing of one colour to show
their preference for that part.

It’s fairly suspenseful.  A shark made of thoughts (maybe…) is hunting one Eric Sanderson, who can remember nothing.  What a horrible summation – read some of this instead.  One of those great high-wire acts of intellectual ideamanship that might fall apart terribly in the end (such as The End of Mr. Y)… It’s irritating, though, that I keep seeing in my mind the novel as a film.  The story about Nicole Kidman calling Hall and requesting that he change the main character to a female, so that she could play it, is well known (albeit apparently somewhat misrepresented) and apparently the makers of films are eager to move forward, which makes me squirm; it could be screwed up in so many ways, and I’d respect Hall more if he’d said Keep Yer Bloody Hands Offa My Book, You Hollywood Sharks You, but whatever.  (All that said, Ed Norton as Eric.  Really.)

The other is another book by Calamari Press (the first being Robert Lopez’ Part of the World), Peter Markus’ Good, BrotherMuch more subversive; murmurs in your ear rather than carrying a sign (as Texts does, albeit well).  It’s a short work, and I’ve only read two pieces from it so far, so I’ll hold off on commenting further for now.  Good, though.  As I said, not anything along the lines of a "summer read," and so it balances the Hall book well.  The following image is from the book and made by Derek White.



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