This book was really charming in some ways - mostly when describing the various lampshades and other art objects - but this author just Did. Not. Manage. Narrative. Voice. In theory, the narrator was a woman living in turn-of-the-20th-century (+/- 20 years) New York. Way too often, she sounded like the heroine of one of my mom's British romance novels from the 1960s. The dialogue abounded in speech patterns and turns of phrase that were jarringly anachronistic. My grumpiness suggests to me that I care about language more than I do about plot and setting (which were solid). I found myself wanting to know lots more about Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Women's Department, but eager to be done with this novel. (I've ordered the exhibition catalog Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls via interlibrary loan.)
The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (complimentary copy)
Now the authors of this book had pitch-perfect narrative tone. Brilliant, kaleidoscopic metafiction - catalogue entries mixed with short stories mixed with journal articles, and so on - all seasoned with lovely art. Exactly surreal enough. Rachel Swirsky's story was my most-favorite, and Mike Mignola's illustrations made me remember reading The Telltale Heart in seventh grade. Recommended if you like Wunderkammer, slipstream, and/or the creepy tingle of things that threaten to make sense.
Ultimate Spider-Man, volume 20: Ultimate Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, by Brian Michael Bendis et al
Lego: A Love Story, by Jonathan Bender
This book was captivating. I caught myself sighing wistfully, laughing out loud, and even tearing up. Nothing makes me quite so happy as books about people who really love the thing they love to do.
Kafka Was the Rage, by Anatole Broyard
A window into the Village, circa 1950. Honest and fragmentary.
Why Read?, by Mark Edmundson
This book isn't about whether to read or not, it's about what the reasons behind an individual's reading should be. More than that, it's about how teachers should teach, and what great books are for. Parts of this book delighted me and parts irritated me and parts made me uncomfortable and and other parts yet just straight up made me think really hard. Candid and provocative.