I have a great big blind spot in my ability to get inside some people’s minds. Actually, l’m going to stop and reword – I have a big blank spot in my desire to empathize with people as soon as they say, “I don’t read.” Not, mind you, “I can’t read” or “I hate reading,” because I feel like both of those issues arise from shortcomings or disadvantages in their education. And not, “I don’t read as much as I’d like to.” But just the simple, “I don’t read.” They could read; they just simply don’t value it as an activity and think their time is better spent otherwise. I don’t understand, and I don’t want to. So there. That said, here are the books I spent time with in April:
Assault and Beadery by Mollie Cox Bryan. Loved the description of the crafts in this one. I may actually try to make rose beads based on her instructions. The actual crime seemed pretty uninteresting to the author and shoehorned in as required by the genre.
Theory by Dionne Brand. Beautifully written and funny, but also painfully so. Ms Brand captures the oxygen-starved, self-referential, performative world of academia perfectly. The narrating protagonist, called Teoria by a lover, is ABD – all but dissertation – on a PhD that seems increasingly unlikely to ever to be completed, though Teoria believes it will be the catalyst that brings together disparate realms of thought on race, culture, class, gender, politics, and thereby upend hundreds of years of established structures, bringing about radical social change. The novel follows Teoria’s relationships with three lovers over several years, where each has a transformative effect on the narrator’s world view, requiring an entire overhaul of hundreds and thousands of pages.
Washington Black by Esi Edguyan. LOVE. Such a page turner as I haven’t experienced in a while. I was starting to think that maybe I have too much going on mentally to really sink into a book. Unusual for me as books are my great escape, but I just haven’t been sinking lately. So this novel was a big relief on that score. This novel is a “bildungsroman” (there’s a nice $5 word for you), which simply means that it focuses on the protagonist’s growth from youth to adulthood, particularly with a view to moral or psychological growth. George Washington Black is born into slavery in Barbados and as a young boy becomes a kind of an apprentice to the brother of the plantation owner, which opens up a life filled with different kinds of possibility, adventure, and danger. I don’t want to give anything away. Just read it.
Parting Shot by Linwood Barclay. Another suspenseful page turner by Mr. Barclay. This author does not disappoint me. I really enjoy that while he writes in a genre that’s typically laden with conventions his books are so much better than conventional. He writes characters, not air-inflated stereotypes, and the stories are believable. Really good.
On the pod:
No fresh podcasts to share this month. I listened to lots of stuff, but nothing fresh that really rose to the top as a something I had to evangelize. It would seem I’m much more selective in what I list for listening. Curious, no?