It's been awhile, hasn't it? This is why.
But CEO or no, I haven't stopped reading and having far afield opinions on all things bookish. And so I've reminded myself (for the umpteenth time) that I don't need to cut out the readerly parts of myself just because another part of myself is really busy. Is this a return to regular blogging here? Probably not. But let's not end the party before I've arrived. Let's just consider this the RSVP and see how we do.
Some lit bits that I've been mulling over as of late:
- Remember when I re-read all of Murakami in the lead-up for 1Q84? That was awesome. So why am I so reluctant to read 1Q84? Is it in some way related to why I won't read DFW's Pale King? Is there a support group for last and/or most recent novels that we are afraid to read for unclear but very powerful reasons? Tell me I'm not alone.
- I've been power-reading recently and I note that my superstition about completing a book and needing to start another immediately following (and I mean immediately; as in, moments after) is as strong as ever. I've recently made my way through Panorama City by Antoine Wilson, Never Any End to Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas, The Map and the Territory by Michael Houellebecq, This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, All That Follows by Jim Crace, Luminariaum by Alex Shekar, Swimming Home by Deborah Levy and Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil.
- I've moved on to NW by Zadie Smith. The thing about Smith in general is that I read her less for her plot and characters and more for her uncannily spot-on observations of daily life. I often find when reading her I have a lot of "yes! exactly that!" moments.
- I snarkily tweeted about Houellebecq here and here.
- I really want to make the LA Novels Project happen. I read so many of the novels on the list but was stuck with how to execute a digital exploration of the novels that would be interesting to all five of you. I'm all ears.
- It's a way off, but I'm crushing on the Making of the Great Bolaño: The Man and the Myth event put on by LAPL on May 16th. Reserve now. (Also, funny. Have been thinking of a re-read all Bolaño marathon. But, that could be too whoa for my life right now.)
The Book You Raved About & I Didn't
So. You know all those incredibly glowing reviews for Narcopolis? There are twenty-nine rave snippents included at the beginning of the paperback. Everyone I know (and respect a good deal) really loved it. I, of course, didn't get it. Not even a little bit. And you know me. I can read a book with no plot and characters I could give two nuts about as long as there are a few lovely sentences to keep me unraveling the thread.
What magic was I missing? It felt like one long heroin dirge to me. I was intrigued by Mr. Lee and rather enjoyed his backstory. But that's where my interest started and stopped. Is this book revalatory because it is not what we've come to expect from an "Indian novel," as the jacket copy suggests? To wit: "Narcopolis completely subverts and challenges the literary traditions for which the Indian novel is celebrated."
The Guardian exclaims "Nothing like this exists in Indian literature."
So, that makes it somehow magical beyond all comprehension? Dear, dear friends adored this book. I feel like I don't know them anymore. What. Did. I. Miss? Again, I'm all ears.