since spring break started, these are the books I've read, and all three of them are very much worth mentioning. The first is George Saunders, In Persuasion Nation. This is an incredibly (almost) flawless collection of short stories. From cover to cover, the best collection i've read. If you want stories, but do not want to tackle 300+ pages, read this. If you want social consciousness and commentary that probably will lend insight to some of the frightening things you notice in our culture, but are not sure how to articulate them yourself, read this. I think he is master of the craft, and is very thorough. If you dont want the social commentary, read it anyway. The stories can be both funny and devastatingly sad at the same time. I am confident that these stories are all very important. And I know that there are few writers like George Saunders. Check this out, please.
The next book I read was Lee Siegel's Who Wrote the Book of Love. This is part of a quasi-trilogy about writing about love. I've read Love in a Dead Language, and it was equally as wonderful as this book. If you don't mind reading about the complexities of love, mainly sex, from the perspective of a five-year-old lusting after his classmates and friend's sisters, while ultimately learning priceless lessons of love that some of us that are not five-year-olds still have trouble understanding, this is a book you should read. Siegel's mastery of lanuage (he's a professor of religion studies at the University of Hawaii) and wordplay, puns, allusions, etc is so evident in this book. There are many plays on Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn throughout the book. If you catch them, you will undoubtedly fall out of your chair in a fit of laughter and utter amazement at this guy's brilliance and mastery. I'm a bit biased as I started reading this book already in love with Siegel, but am confident that if you like a well written story and are somewhat interested in sex (and love), you will like (and want to sleep with) this book.
After finishing the Siegel novel, I found this on a used shelf at a grocery store in Tucson. Immediately I thought of the hardcover first edition of Where the Sidewalk Ends that I lost to my brother in a latenight card game months before his daughter was born. (Although I haven't yet given him all the books and CD's that i lost to him that night via IOU's, I feel that the Silverstein book was a good start). Anyway, this is Shel Silverstein's The Missing Piece and it is fantastic. The drawings, the rhyme, the simple story: wonderful, as Silverstein is. I read it in one sitting (on the toilet, so the book has already been defiled and the chances of my brother now wanting this one during a late-nite card game has dropped drastically) and it was as close to literary happiness as I have ever acheived while sitting on the toilet. I would like to thank Shel for that moment. If you've read Silverstein, there is no sense in describing this book. it is simple, clever, and I am sure that if you ever owned a puppy, or listened to Dr. Hook and The Medicine Band, you will enjoy it. The only difference is that this is one complete story instead of a collection of stories.
I am currently reading Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49. The picture here is of an audio recording, but I am actually reading it. I am enjoying the read: wonderful sentences, mysterious, with some blunt comments on metafiction and studying literature. I've heard that this is probably the most read Pynchon novel, but not the best. I suppose it is the most read because it is the shortest. Which is, guiltfully, why I picked it up. All I can say is that I am thus far enjoying it, and appreciating the humorous techniques Pynchon uses and hope to, by the end, understand exactly what purpose those techniques are serving.
Hope you check out these books, and i hope you enjoy them.