It's funny how reading Mary Gaitskill turns you into a Mary Gaitskill character: perhaps some well-read office pervert will see me reading this book iIt's funny how reading Mary Gaitskill turns you into a Mary Gaitskill character: perhaps some well-read office pervert will see me reading this book in the cafeteria and fall in love with me, which would be more tragic than titillating....more
Oh, Miranda July. I don't know how to begin to feel about you. I saw you do performance art at the Wexner Center in 2000 and thought you were a hack.Oh, Miranda July. I don't know how to begin to feel about you. I saw you do performance art at the Wexner Center in 2000 and thought you were a hack. But your big movie was pretty OK. And this book, despite the undergrad-literary-magazine sensibility, it got to me.
I wasn't planning on reading it at all, honestly. But one of my friends who never reads fiction and kind of doesn't believe in reading fiction started raving about it. He even bought a copy for his mom, who is mom-age and Southern, even if she is very liberal. Then late one night, last summer, my I was driving back from Eugene with my boyfriend snoring next to me, and scanning the radio, I came upon a reading of "The Birthmark," which literally left me slackjawed. I can't say I felt that way about all the stories in the collection, but I liked most of them. They were interesting (to me), which is an underrated quality, but necessary to my definition of a good book. ...more
This book is a case study in why books should be taught as books. If I read any of these stories alone in an anthology (or for high school) I'd probabThis book is a case study in why books should be taught as books. If I read any of these stories alone in an anthology (or for high school) I'd probably hate them. But the whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts. I take deep aesthetic pleasure in this kind of structure, where the writer lays the parts down next to each other like Tarot cards and it's the reader's job to make the connections. Maybe I like feeling like the author has assigned me a task, like I'm involved in the experience. Like Hemingway thinks I'm smart. Maybe it reminds me of Dos Passos, or maybe it's just something I also like in Dos Passos. Maybe that's because I have a short attention span: I like the experience of vivid scenery flickering past. I like his style. I'm also interested in how he interrogates masculinity and violence. There's a lot to chew on here. ...more
Sometimes you just want to read a quiet, melancholy short story. Jhumpa Lahiri is not breaking crazy new ground here, but it's interesting how the NewSometimes you just want to read a quiet, melancholy short story. Jhumpa Lahiri is not breaking crazy new ground here, but it's interesting how the New Yorker-style short story changes subtly in different hands, different contexts. The same kind of things happen here that would in a story by William Trevor or Alice Munro, but transcontinentally, further complicating the domestic sphere, the questions of identity etc. Some of the stories take place in New England, some in India, sometimes the protagonists are Bengali and sometimes a story about Bengalis is told from the perspective of a white person. I especially appreciated the arrangement of the stories in the book: while none of them are directly interrelated (no shared characters, for example), there still seemed to be a progression, and the final paragraph really capped them all off. ...more
1. Goddamnit, Diaz. Here I was thinking, this book is just like everything else he's ever written, and I just can't care that much about it, and then1. Goddamnit, Diaz. Here I was thinking, this book is just like everything else he's ever written, and I just can't care that much about it, and then the end of that last story just fucking killed me, so I'll leave the book thinking it was amazing. I see what you did there.
2. Diaz is the king of second-person narration, which works for him, as much as I hate to admit it. I'm not sure that it actually makes me feel as if I am the protagonist, though: there's a mental trick where you just start thinking of you as his name, which makes sense since he's Yunior. But then, what's this boldness? You're a lady in "Flaca." A whitegirl. And the first person is the dude (this is Yunior also, I assume). In reminiscing about his adolescence, he uses the first person (distance?) but once he becomes really sexual, with Miss Lora, he's "you" again.
3. I've got issues, I guess, with the chronology of the whole Yunior trilogy (aka all of Diaz's books so far, taken together). I guess that's how it's got to be, and maybe one of the more subversive aspects of the whole project, in that it's hard to pin down a trajectory, and thus it's hard to accept that this man has finally changed at the end of "The Cheater's Guide to Love," even though that story must be the last one for it to make any sense.
4. The language, oh, the language. Everybody loves it so much. No matter what he does, I will always give Diaz props for putting so much untranslated unitalicized Spanish into his text. This is actually how he talks, for one thing. Readers who have a problem with this should think about the fact that this is actually how lots of people talk, and how they think. And Diaz is writing for an audience that includes those people (or, as he once said, for his six best friends and the rest of the world). ...more
there is just no one who uses words or thinks thoughts like Joey Comeau. as somebody on Autostraddle once wrote, Comeau's writing is queer in every sethere is just no one who uses words or thinks thoughts like Joey Comeau. as somebody on Autostraddle once wrote, Comeau's writing is queer in every sense of the word. I like A Softer World, but I think he's even better at longer-form writing. you could think of this book as erotica, maybe, in that all the stories have sex in them. but they also have math and drama and tension and office supply stores and meteor showers and juvenile delinquents. oh, and time travelling to try to seduce Patricia Highsmith. hello.