Book Twentythree: The New York Trilogy

The New York Trilogy, Paul Auster

Each of the novellas inside this book are described on the fake pulp cover artwork leading into the stories as "existential mysteries," which seems apt. Or maybe they're literary mysteries, as they seem to be stories about writers getting involved in solving mysteries or detectives getting involved in mysteries surrounding writers. Which, having just finished the book, sounds trite, because these are really more than mysteries, and really, it isn't three novellas at all, but one book with three connected stories. Is that confusing enough?

A long time ago I read Moon Palace, which I remember enjoying, though now I couldn't even begin to tell you what it was about. And, probably, in five years or so I won't be able to tell you what this was about. Something deeper that what I've managed to grasp? Or just an enjoyable book with surprising connections? What I can say is that I really do like Auster's writing and he makes a book quite enjoyable to read.

*Addendum: I was so tired when I wrote this last night that looking back at the post I'm a little embarrassed. I may as well just have written, "Book good! Ara Jane like book! Me read good book, me go to bed. Sleep good! Zzzzzzz." Ugh.

Book Twentytwo: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling

No spoilers from me. So, just a simple, "Wow!"

Book Twentyone: Sound Bites

Sound Bites: Eating on Tour with Franz Ferdinand, Alex Kapranos

Another book picked up as a freebie at book club, and another delightful surprise! At the risk of making myself look like a total nerd, I don't really think I can name one song by Franz Ferdinand. Yes, I'm sure I've heard their music at some point, but let's just say I'm not a true fan. However, what I am a fan of is food, particularly books about food. This book takes a series of articles written by Kapranos for the Guardian about all the food he ate while touring with the band one year, and makes it into a neat little collection of two to three page stories, accompanied by sweet little illustrations. And pictures in books are always a big plus in my book. (Not, literally, in my book, since I don't have a book of my own that I've written, though if I did I'm sure it would have pictures in it.) Anyhow, this was a sweet little book with some nice reflections on food and friends (kind of reminded me of Nigel Slater's Toast), that may not be super memorable, but a nice little diversion nonetheless.

Book Twenty: No One Belongs Here More Than You

No One Belongs Here More Than You, Miranda July

A long time ago--probably sometime between early high school and just-after-college--I used to read a lot of short stories. In fact, it was pretty much all I read for quite a while. I couldn't really remember why I stopped reading so many short stories until I picked this book up and then I remembered... SHORT STORIES ARE DEPRESSING AS FUCK! Okay, so this is totally unfair for all those wonderful short stories out there that are also funny and wonderful and true (Lorrie Moore, I'm totally looking at you), but this collection really encapsulates all that is wrong with contemporary short stories. (Parenthetical about the previous parenthetical: I read somewhere that someone compared Miranda July to Lorrie Moore, which made me want to cry into the delicious beer I am drinking, thereby ruining the beer, and thereby making me curse Miranda July for both ruining my beer and not even coming close to holding a candle to Lorrie Moore.)

I am probably being a little hard on this little book. There were a handful of moments in these stories that kind of got me, one thing that made me laugh a little out loud, and a few things that made my insides kind of squirm up. I liked the story "Something That Needs Nothing" quite a bit. But I found most of the characters totally unrelatable and generally very lonely and sad. And not lonely and sad in a good way, but lonely in sad in a way that makes you think that were kind of asking for it. Or that they weren't, perhaps, lonely and sad in a real way. Because realness is what it's all about.

Postscript: After posting this, I moseyed on over to the website for the book, and was 1000 times more delighted by the website than I was by the book. If you only have time for one activity--reading the book or visiting the webite--might I recommend the website? It is actually quite funny and silly in the way the book promised to be but never delivered on. So there you go.