Monday, June 30, 2014

recent reads // the (some from) june edition

hello friends-- June has been hectic, but exams are done, and school is out! I hope to be reading a little more often. For now, here are two books from the month of June

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, a collection of short stories by Raymond Carver

These short stories are snappy, but incredibly insightful into American culture. Carver, with his power for accessible and understated prose, conveys so much with just a few brush strokes. My personal favorites were "Gazebo," "The Bath" and "Tell The Women I'm Going." It's often hard to place how these stories manage to be so emotionally powerful and affecting with such sparse prose, but they do just that. The little stories in this collection are novels in their own right, and, as all good books should, leave you with more questions than answers.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

White Teeth is a novel based off the improbable and contrasting friends Samad Iqbal and Archie Jones,  who bonded over their time spend serving together during World War II. This book is difficult to summarize because was almost an epic, spanning generations. It seemed to add in little details and stories for every character, not just the main ones. Even casual passers-by on the street got their own backstory. In this manner, I found that White Teeth was dragged down by its descriptive strength, almost laden with detail. The climax came down to the very last page, and thus felt unsatisfying. Still, it was incredibly clever, and Smith is a deft and funny writer. I think I would have gotten a lot more out of this book if I had had a vested interest in London and immigration to the United Kingdom.

Friday, June 27, 2014

a belated goodbye to sophomore year

words, left page: (a polaroid of a suburban house across the street). Farewell, sophomore year. There have been highlights and 'lowlights' certainly. Hell, I don't even remember the first six months. Burger King runs, leaving school to watch the water, dumb football games, frisbee games -- all memories I will treasure. But for all those times you thought the warmth of winter would never come, or that you had lost whatever creative drive you once had, know that you were wrong, and you are capable of strengths you never knew you had within you. Goodbye, for now. 

right page (an important thing I have learned this year): Do not fear self-expression…*
*(mess up!)**
**(a lot!)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

today is… // a wandering solo kind of day

Today was one of those incredibly pleasant days where it seems silly not to go skip in a meadow somewhere. I wandered the streets and people-watched: a group of resting construction workers with ice cream sundaes in hand, a busker who shuffled around tens of coins between his fingers without letting any of them fall, a street painter listening to jazz while designing splotchy acrylics, a little girl with a thick braid and her head held high, clutching her backpack on the train. I also accidentally acquired a coupon for discounted psychic readings.

currently reading // 
White Teeth by Zadie Smith (see photo below)

(enthusiastically) jamming out to // 
Waterloo Sunset by the Kink
Movie Ending Romance by Math and Physics Club

recent reads // may edition

(top to bottom)

1 // If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor
A strange and circular poem of a novel, focusing on the lives of people living on a street in Northern England who are all affected by tragedy. The style is distinct-- lilting, poetic, with run-on sentences galore. I loved it initially but grew weary of the style. By the end, it was uncomfortably pretentious and I craved some nitty-gritty honesty. I can see how this book would be stylistically polarizing, so definitely check it out for yourself.

2 // The Stranger by Albert Camus
This slim novella packs a lot; Camus is both writer and philosopher. It plays on ideas of judgement vs hypocrisy, 'true' justice vs earthly justice. The style is sparse and jarring- Camus goes down certain paths then abruptly ends them without further mention. This is the sort of book that I feel you must allow to wash over them like the shore of the ocean If you do not get stuck on each detail, then it is quite the mesmerizing and thought-provoking read.

3 // Winter Journal by Paul Auster
My favorite by far of three- this is author Paul Auster's visceral memoir. He spares nothing, even when it sends the audience reeling. You have to respect his honesty, even when he seems cruel or you personally disagree with him. I think that is the real strength of this book. Auster strives to tear down this idolization of authors and artists in general. He writes with such expression and chooses powerful details such that we seem to grasp the scope of his life in this short book.
…who you are is a mystery and you have no hope that it will ever be solved… 
- Paul Auster, "Winter Journal"

What have you been reading this past month? May has been crazy but I am glad I snuck in a few good books.