dawn powell is one of the best authors you have never read. and i know you haven't read her, or more of her books would be in print. this one is out odawn powell is one of the best authors you have never read. and i know you haven't read her, or more of her books would be in print. this one is out of print. and when i found it at one of the best used bookstores i have ever been to, along with another of her titles that i needed, i squealed loudly and grabbed them and smoooshed them to my chest as though there were other people around who would have fought me for them. there weren't. they wouldn't have. no one reads her. i bought one of her books for david, and he hasn't read it yet either.
i don't know what to do anymore. do i need to bribe you?
the best i can do is tell you that you should read her, but ultimately it is up to you.
this book is not among my favorites, but it is still very very good. what dawn powell does is write about new york artists and social climbers and wastrels of the thirties and forties, and the way they betray one another and coolly conduct their lives while disregarding the feelings of others. and when you find out that many of these characters are based on real people she knew (like hemingway), how are going to keep saying "no"??
this novel features a woman from small-town poverty hiding her past, marrying well, and allowing her husband to arrange her "successes" and hire people to write the work she becomes known for, all the while resenting him and carrying on an affair with an old flame. meanwhile, a friend from the old days runs away from a broken heart to the big city and both enables and complicates amanda's affair. other things happen, there are highs and lows, but this one just didn't sparkle for me like the wicked pavilion or the locusts have no king, which were two of the finest books i have ever read.
i feel that with my birthday, and mockingjay and various other distractions, dawn powell did not get the attention from me that she deserved. but i suppose she is used to that, right??
i would love for her to become the secret darling of goodreads.com let's get classy, okay?
there is a great injustice in this world. and before i get back to my paper and before i write any job recommendations for anybody, i am going to sitthere is a great injustice in this world. and before i get back to my paper and before i write any job recommendations for anybody, i am going to sit down and make a heartfelt plea to anyone who is paying attention to help me fix one little thing that is symptomatic of everything else that is wrong in the world. i just got back from MOCCA, because i am a nerrrrrd, and peter blegvad just happened to be there signing. so of course i have to go up and buy another copy of this book i already own so i can have it signed and chat him up, because i am someone who believes in chatting up my heroes. and he told me that the guy from overlook press (with whom i already have some issues because they won't give up the rights to the first in the trilogy of kjaerstad books to open letter, and my trilogy is therefore not uniform) said that they have never ever had a book sell as poorly as book of leviathan. and i know that has to be true. because even at my store, where we always have copies, often on a display, this motherfucker just doesn't move!! and i do not understand it. seriously - i want an explanation, an excuse from each and every one of you explaining why it doesn't just reach right out and grab you. these are its merits: first of all it is a beautifully designed book. forget the insides for a minute. look at this thing -the page-edges are red, the silver on the cover is reflective and pretty, the colors are bold and eye catching, its got a cat, a bunny, and a faceless baby on the cover and a blurb from matt groening. that deserves at least a browse. and then it is opened, and the illustrations should be enough, even before reading anything, to stop your heart: the care that has gone into this - the detail, the range of his abilities...there are so many styles here - so much technique - each page could be framed and would kick anything's ass at the fucking whitney biennial. this is gorgeous, gorgeous stuff. and then, just read a panel f.t.l.o.g. - references to poetry and philosophy and math and art and physics - quotes from chesterton, and neruda and duchamp!! he is no slouch, this man - but it is not dull and academic - everything within is beautiful and funny and bleak and so well-put. it's just so... right. the man has rocked the book on every level. he deserves your money more than most people. even if you end up not liking the writing, you heathen, you will at the very least have an object of undeniable beauty.
this is what he looks like:
this is what his art looks like:
seriously - you all need to improve this sales rut.
jonathan carroll's books are like gourmet jellybeans. even his shittiest flavors are better than most regular jellybeans, and who doesn't like jellybejonathan carroll's books are like gourmet jellybeans. even his shittiest flavors are better than most regular jellybeans, and who doesn't like jellybeans? (alfonso claims that only white people eat jellybeans, which is untrue, but it's such an odd racial stereotype i feel compelled to add it here).
you know how there is some music that no matter what mood you are in, it just happens to be the right music?? jonathan carroll is like that for me. he's just...wonderful, like a new crush you can't stop gushing over. he's definitely a high fabulist, but in the best sense of the term. let's compare: better than graham joyce, more charming than millhauser, slightly less ambitious than robertson davies,but always always entertaining. i would name-drop alasdair gray, but so few people have read him, it's not even worth it. stop reading this review and go read lanark, already...
jonathan carroll can be summed up in two words: death and dogs. not your gritty noir alsatians snarling over an abandoned corpse, but generally affable dogs involved in some way in a character's meditations or experiences with death and what comes next: bull terriers who are either sentient or symbolic, but are carroll's literary stamp as recognizable as any of lynch's recurring visual details/tics.
carroll has a few major themes; mostly ideas of life and death and karma and the afterlife and man's responsibilities to man and woman and ghosts and film. they are philosophical/moral/spiritual journey stories but in a playful, not didactic way. "spiritual journey" should in no way conjure up images of coelho, redfield, or martel. take those thoughts to go, please.
land of laughs is a really good introduction to jonathan carroll. the ending? shrug, not the best, in my opinion. but it honestly does not matter, because it's such an incredible story throughout. his endings are pretty consistently weak, but it almost becomes an adorable quirk, like when kids can't say "spaghetti" or something that people think it is cute when kids do.
at the end of the day, he is just a good storyteller, and like the opening credits for "amazing stories", isn't that the foundation our "littry appreciation" should be built upon?...more
anne hebert, where have you been all my life?? and why are you all out of print?? and why did i buy you years ago and only pick you up now?? i declareanne hebert, where have you been all my life?? and why are you all out of print?? and why did i buy you years ago and only pick you up now?? i declare again: canadians are one of the worlds best story-telling communities. i have rarely been disappointed by a canadian. and its not just blood-pride, if ayana is wanting to chime in. because its everything: the pacing, the novelty of narrative structure, the descriptive passages... unless i'm just more attuned to it because of some long-buried ancestral tug. but then why do i also respond so well to nigerian and irish fiction? why am i using this "review" to muse about something so extratextual? am i just in canada-lust right now because of the leonard cohen concert? regardless, and more on point, this book is excellent. i will seek her books out like i did with maritta wolff and jonathan carroll and liz jensen and all my other favorite out of printers. and i will have a tea party. in canada. so. ...more
quick edit three years later to say that i love that when you look up "easy chain" here on goodreads, the second-place match is "the holy bible" by anquick edit three years later to say that i love that when you look up "easy chain" here on goodreads, the second-place match is "the holy bible" by anonymous. pretty perfect, since evan dara is my anonymous deity, and his books are my bibles. meaning, "they give me my faith, but i probably haven't read them as thoroughly as i should." but i digress.
evan dara is not for everyone, but he is one of my all-time favorites. which of course means all of his books are difficult to get ahold of, because that's how the world treats things that appeal to me. he writes huge muddled messy nonlinear whooshes of books that become like a duststorm consuming the reader and leaving us all (even the people not actively reading the book - all of us) breathless and dizzy but crying "when will you write again??"
but he is stubborn and mysterious and no one really knows much about him, although people say he is actually one of many different, already-established authors: richard powers, william vollmann, thomas pynchon, david foster wallace - for someone who very few people have read, he has developed a cult following of amateur detectives/stalkers who would love to read his diary... this is what it says about him on wikipedia.org : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evan_Dara. its brevity makes him even more mysterious. me, i don't care about the mystery part; or i do,because it is cool, but it's not relevant. whoever he is, i want him to keep writing. or at least i want him to fight to get lost scrapbook back into print, and making this one easier to get. no one likes an author who is withholding.
i should write this when i am able to make more sense. right now, it is not a strength of mine. i will fix this tomorrow. but feel free to put it on your to-read shelves for now.
in short, and for now. it is untidy, in a really compelling way, and is perfect for people who hate a predictable book.
(i should not write book reviews at work - naughty)...more
mmokay - i put up the publishers description, and now i write a review so jen can use this in her book club. i read this in college so my details aremmokay - i put up the publishers description, and now i write a review so jen can use this in her book club. i read this in college so my details are not perfect, but i remember loving it. it's about mothers trying to get their daughters married, and the lengths they will go to to accomplish this. it's like an old time-y version of cheerleader or beauty pageant moms. there is a lot of scheming and betrayals and backstabbing, but under the guise of these sweet convent girls and their pretty dresses and balls. what i remember so strongly were all the comparisons to battle - the dresses and hair and makeup were like armour to conquer the enemy, or prospective husband. i also remember it being compared to chess. i would like to reread this, when i am finished reading all the baby books i have to read for my summer class. but - yes - book club this and let me know if you like it....more
okay, i am going to try to harness this simmering undercurrent of interest in donald harington that i spy with my little eye here on goodreads.com to okay, i am going to try to harness this simmering undercurrent of interest in donald harington that i spy with my little eye here on goodreads.com to build it into a rolling boil!!!
yes. donald harington. yes.
do i frequently get enthusiastic here on goodreads.com?? do i bark at the mailman, chase balls, and develop a fondness for legs? guilty, yes. but besides dfw, who is my soul, who are the big three?? jonathan carroll, thomas hardy, and dear donald harington. that is not to say that other-enthusiasm is false or fleeting or unwarranted, but these three authors tame my beast and make me stop yipping and running in circles, and absorb all my attention as i curl up and get lost in their words for a few hours.
i am abandoning this metaphor...now!
so this book. if you are not going to follow my advice and read them all in order, this is probably the best starting point. i'm not a doctor, i don't know what's best for you, but i feel like i am qualified to make a recommendation based on loving donald harington more than most people. this book covers many generations of the ingledew family,just one of the families harington dreamed up before lovingly crafting and effortlessly detailing their lives and speech and motives. reading this will give you teasers about other characters, other places, right places, but will not give away too many surprises along the way. when i read this book, i did so after having only read one other of his books (choiring of the trees), and i put it down, thinking - "man, i wish i knew more about _____." or "_________was such a great character - i could read a whole book about her."
one of my favorite parts of this book is the focus of an entire other book!! how many authors will do that for you?? did dickens write a whole novel about the origin story of miss havisham from her perspective?? no he did not, selfish man. harington knew what we wanted and he gave it to us.
you will learn about buildings,yes, but you will learn about the people whose lives revolved around those buildings; you will wish this book had been your history textbook in elementary school because even though it is not real, it feels real. harington is that good at creating a world - a town with people whose lives sometimes work magic but always always entertain.
i feel like a literary explorer out here. i need him to be more known and loved than he is - i want this to be my gift to goodreads.com.
he is not an author to miss out on, but he is an author to miss. terribly....more