July 31st, 2014

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Yesterday afternoon, I finished reading a throwaway book; nothing much here, to be honest. It was The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister, essentially a collection of the witticisms of the famed Game of Thrones character from the books so far written, spiced up with some not very good artwork. Feh.
kitty, reading

Books #29-30

Book #29 was "Erasure" by Percival Everett. Publisher's Weekly summary: "Everett's latest is an over-the-top masterpiece about an African-American writer (Thelonius "Monk" Ellison) who "overcomes" his intellectual tendency to "write white" and ends up penning a parody of ghetto fiction that becomes a huge commercial and literary success." While I couldn't necessarily relate to the main character's issues with the pigeon-holing of African American authors per se, I do know about how the publishing industry does tend to try to shoehorn books into categories like "chick lit" and "urban novel" even if they don't really fit. As a published writer myself, I can also relate to how frustrating it can be to see how your work is received. You can send something out into the world that you've poured your heart into, only to see it ignored, while some other inferior work is lavished with praise. I was with "Monk" all the way in this book. He's not only dealing with the literary world but with tragedies and complications in his own family life. I think Everett pulled off a really tricky thing by including the entire text of his parody novel inside the larger novel here. He had to make it ridiculous and yet compelling enough that the reader will "buy" that it could become a best-seller. I really liked this novel all around and want to read more by Everett.

Book #30 was "Homer & Langley" by E.L. Doctorow. This book is a fictionalized novel based only very loosely on the real-life eccentric Collyer brothers. Doctorow plays with the details of their lives and has they living through parts of history they didn't really live through, but it's more a commentary on social change through the 19th century than it is about the Collyer brothers, who are famous for exemplifying the "hoarder" phenomenon in horrifying detail since[Spoiler (click to open)]it's likely that both brothers died directly or indirectly due to their hoarding.Sometimes it's hard for the average person to understand how a hoarder could allow their homes to get to the point that they are unlivable, and the novel does a good job of exploring the mind set and the set of circumstances that contribute to the situation. I found some of the transitions jerky and rough but overall the prose was wonderful and you really are pulled along by the narrative of Homer, the blind brother, because not a lot happens in the book in the sense of a traditional plotline. Recommended to lovers of literary fiction but not necessarily the best example of a fictionalized treatment of the Collyer brothers.

Joyce Carol Oates, a famous author of literary novels herself, reviewed the book and has some great insights.

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