Ongoing list of completed book Reads
(should have been doing this a long time ago)
Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley****Another winner from The Guncle author; his debut! A creative tale of a man, his best friend and the dire sea monster that creates havoc in their life. Humourous, real, deeply moving and with a final 5 pages that moistened the eyes in happiness. I love this author; he feels kindred. i have The Editor and his husband’s A Star Is Bored in hand to excitedly read next, as well.
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman*****Absolutely Genius! In awe of this author’s incredible talent and eager to dive into his other works (The Italian Teacher is next in line behind another unfinished read). Rachman’s intertwining vignettes of the lives connected to a small newspaper in Rome are dynamically perceptive with characters that practically exist in 3-D before the reader’s eyes and conversing with dialogue that flies along in humor, insight, spontaneity, contrast, and true realism. The short stories culminate into a gut-punch of a finale that would make the spirits of Steinbeck & Welles proud. Highly, highly recommended! I have a blurb in my recent favorite, Less, to thank for putting this on my radar.
Antiquities by Cynthia Ozick****An exceptional little story packing a lot into only 180 pages. I deeply admire writers who can create dense works in minimal form such as Justin Torres’ We The Animals. Here we have a tale of history, lineages, truth, myth told via a gentleman (a little persnickety, prickly, crusty and egoic) working on a memoir which may actually be a legal document which may actually be an institutional relic. At heart it is also a lamenting love story built on less-is-more information and a mystical red-headed character that echoes the characteristics of John Irving’s lengendary Owen Meany. Takes about 50 pages to really get interesting yet this author is an undeniable pro who is new to me. I shall dig deeper into her back catalogue.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig*****Outstanding read! Essential and important! The kind of read that can literally save lives of vulnerable and hurting people. The incorporation of such phenomenal philosophical perspectives from classic figures is really well done. i hope this gets translated into a film with an artist like Olivia Rodrigo, Arlo Parks, Lady Gaga or TSwift. This read really inspires the reader to take stock of life. Found myself making lists and questioning my Core Being. Lots of notes taken with this one. Great poetry and lyrics included, as well. i look forward to reading more by Matt; especially his memoir, Reasons To Stay Alive.
100 Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez****Outstanding and addictive first 100-200 pages covering the earliest lineage of Macondo. Once the story shifted to war and the later lineages in the second 200 pages my interest would wax and wane; sometimes waning to the point where i had to force myself to keep going. Intuitively, i knew that since this novel is a classic that the ending must pay off. Fortunately, it most certainly does! I journaled 13 impactful quotes from this novel. One star is shaved off due to the sluggish second half. After reading i couldn’t help asking myself if Alan Moore is our modern day wizard of Macondo? Watchman is Genius. Jerusalem in is Now Reading. 😉
Less by Andrew Sean Greer*****
This book! Wow! Loved every moment and am already promising to myself to read it again at 50 year mark and every ten year bday after that. Remarkably funny and the way the author uses words so effortlessly to seamlessly edit visuals of time shifts from present to flashback left me in awe and feeling hypnotized by a vernacular wizard. I completed the final 100 pages poolside at a local spa and was oscillating between laughing out loud and crying; happily. This book is so full of life and perspective that aging readers may especially appreciate. A book I would gift to anyone and everyone as i have done with other favorite reads in the past. Highest praise.
The Guncle by Steven Rowley **** Highly Recommended Read! I thoroughly enjoyed this read and have not laughed out loud this much whilst reading a book in a while. The first two hundred pages are particularly packed with hilarious dialogue or sitches. By around the 200 page mark the book also starts to generate tears several times due to wonderful simple self-discoveries and keen insight. Heart-felt and tender with a central figure who is loveable and fun to support even while we experience his faults and vulnerabilities along the way. This is an excellent post 2020 read because it deals with the themes of isolation and experiences that pull us out of those periods; new beginnings; never giving up on dreams whilst allowing dreams to evolve in flexible directions. At some point I would love to have this book in a shelf collection where I live for access to elevate any day. Here are a few memorable quotes I jotted down in my diary:
“Self-love for gay people can be an act of survival. When the whole world is designed to point out you’re different, it can be a way to endure.”
“We adopt a safe version of ourselves for the public, for protection, and then as adults we excavate our true selves from the parts we’ve invented to protect ourselves. It’s the most important work of queer lives.”
“Sometimes things come back to life.”
“Every parent has these days. You’re very good with them. Your breakfast is on us.”
Looking forward to reading SR’s other 2 books (Lili & The Octopus is in possession; have to track down The Editor) and SR’s husband, Byron Lane’s novel, A Star Is Bored.
Animal Farm & 1984 by George Orwell (2 books in 1 publication) ***** Somehow I got by without being assigned these in school and thus this is my first time reading both. I am glad I finally did and now I understand why “modern Classic” and “masterpiece” are assigned to both. Riveting reads written with such precise clarity and visionary intuition. Cautionary tales on the tips of tongues due to the current state of where we stand in society.
Four New Messages by Joshua Cohen * overall, a kinda meh read. I doubt much of this will stick with me. The best story, personally, is the fourth called SENT, but even that lost me about halfway through. This is adventurous writing and unique prose which I applaud; however it just never fully grabbed me upon finishing. I never abandon books. This is one I could have although I wouldn’t have gotten to enjoy the solid beginning of SENT.
Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff Vandermeer ** different yet not always captivating enough. Lags in places. The final pages picked up a bit. Great messages about climate change and care of environment and warnings. Unique, at times. Just never fully got so into the story that I couldn’t put it down. Meh, not super memorable.
News of the World by Paulette Jiles ** a little slow for my taste. Decent; if not a memorable read that will stick with me long. Has a noble central character and a good heart at center of story. In this case the film may end up being better; have not yet seen.
The Oracle Year by Charles Soule***Very Good. Enjoyed, Fascinating, Intelligent, Current Event Relevant Depth, Well-written. Follows a simple guy who is a struggling bass player in NYC until he becomes endowed with predictions of the future that come true. He becomes a saint to some and dangerous to others. Asks questions about what we would do with all the power to see the future. Would we protect others or protect ourselves? Help or harm? Enjoyed this one enough that I am going to read Soule’s Star Wars contribution.
The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel***Very Good and Completely Unique Storytelling accompanied with music and graphic novel sequences. Way ahead of its time when it was released. Now I believe the masses are more open to the ideas and concepts in this. Past life regressions, astroanalysts, reincarnation, oneness, spirit guides/guardian angels. The experience is unique and finds purpose in every life on the planet and all the lessons we experience during our life missions whether good or bad. The musical sequences and graphics dealing with characters learning they were raped or the rapist (sometimes both in past lives) really led to deep sobbing as a reader. A lot of powerful emotional release happens during this and the ending is a beautiful, happy one. At times it is a little silly and over-the-top yet i rolled with all the elements and enjoyed it. The grandmother character led to lol’s at times. Overall i would say this book unlocks a lot of deep healing and can awaken readers to the bigger picture if not already aware.
Dune by Frank Herbert *** Very Good. Important themes of water, perseverance, leadership, individual liberty/autonomy, community interdependence, religious extremes, and creating green/sustainable situations out of environments/situations that appear to be dire or impossible. Cautionary themes of religious extremes and hero archetypes. Looking forward to the Denis V. Film. Thus far, have not received immediate enthusiasm for continuing the Dune saga from readers I know. I may pick up another along the way though. We’ll see. Many great Classic memorable quotes within this read to return to again and again. Will always associate the Hugh Jackman HBO film, Bad Education, with Dune as his former student who becomes his lover expresses how much Dune impacted him and Hugh Jackman’s character fondly remembers.