Bookshelf: Recent Book Binge

I have been on such a book binge recently, picking up books back to back to back to back. Some real gems too.

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The Last Samurai by Helen Dewitt. So bizarre. A real challenge at first because of how it's written (no quotations marks, the narrators interrupting themselves, very long and detailed excerpts about Greek and complex math and all kinds of esoteric subjects) but I'm glad I stuck with it. She must be the most particular and frankly, fucking brilliant person. I haven't read anything quite like this before.

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The Folded Clock: A Diary by Heidi Julavits. So damn good. She's confessional but not cheap about it and the writing is deceptively simple but so spot on. She makes meaningful essays about seemingly mundane things look so easy and it all feels cohesive together. I have her debut novel coming in the mail any day now and I am so excited to read some of her fiction. I have such a huge literary crush on her right now.

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My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. I don't get the hype. About halfway in I finally read the summary thinking there had to be something more to the book than this wealthy, beautiful, young white woman literally sleeping her way through depression... but there isn't really. The build up to 9/11 also felt weirdly... exploitative? Obvious? Moshfegh has such an impressive list of awards for her other writing, which of course does not mean everything, but what I'm saying is, I'm going to give some of her other writing a try.

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There Are No Grown Ups by Pamela Druckerman.  I'd picked this up rather dubiously, worried it would feel like one long ridiculous op-ed about how the French have better sex. And yes, there are many pages devoted to exactly that, but I also found myself pretty damn entertained. There's some shock value throughout, but some real tenderness too.

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Motherhood by Sheila Heti. Liked it sometimes. Hated it sometimes. The whole thing is an internal debate about whether or not she should have a baby. I wonder what I would have made of it had I read it well before having a kid of my own. Some of it was an interesting journey through someone else's mind, but by about halfway through it was all I could do to not shout OH MY GOD DON'T DO IT PLEASE DON'T DO IT YOU SO CLEARLY DON'T WANT TO DO IT! 

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How Should a Person Be? by Shelia Heidi. I read her novel right after because, like I mentioned I'm planning to do with Moshfegh's work, I wanted to give her writing another chance, especially in a different genre. Except I'm not so sure how fictional this novel is considering the main character is a write named Sheila who has a deep but tumultuous friendship with a woman named Margeaux and the book is dedicated to a woman named Margeaux. I don't know. It kind of reminded me of "Frances Ha" which some people went absolutely gaga over for how "realistically" it portrayed female friendship but I guess i just haven't had friendships like these so both works left me feeling...slightly annoyed honestly. (And for the record, I am NOT one of those women who has "just always gotten along better with men".)

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Little Labors by Rivka Galchen. I haven't finished it yet because it is so wonderful I am trying to make it last. Much like Julavits, Galchen is a fucking MASTER at showing you what seem like slivers of daily life but are actually windows into your entire life as a whole. On the surface, it's reflections mostly about early parenthood which is unsurprisingly extra meaningful to me right now. But unlike with On Motherhood Too Soon, where I felt like reading it was too soon and muddying my own experience, Glachen's writing has instead helped bring moments of my own life as a parent into better focus for me and made them even more delightful. Or at the very least funny. I highly recommend this one!