Wednesday, December 22, 2010

12 Reads of Christmas -- Serious Stuff for the Stockings

My 2010 reading list sounds a bit like Goldilocks when she entered the bear's home -- books too big, too small, and just right. All three classics are worthy of a read.

TOO BIG... Without doubt, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW (Thomas Pynchon) is a tad gargantuan. Weighing over one pound and clocking in at 776 pages (and the font -- so small!), this tome deserves its own spot under the tree. I admit -- GR IS a tough slog, but the prose is so worth the effort. I read along with a reading group, which lessened the pain and helped when I hit a WTF spot in the story. First sentence: A screaming comes across the sky.

TOO SMALL... A teeny book with huge payout is TINKERS (Paul Harding). This DEBUT novel published by a small press (Bellevue Literary Press) won the Pulitzer this year. A gorgeous book about the love of a son for his father and understanding how epilepsy changes lives. (DO check out the quarterly literary journal put out by BLR -- among the best essays, poems, and fiction focusing on health and disability. I have subscribed for four years and just signed up for another 3 year stint). First sentence: GEORGE WASHINGTON CROSBY began to hallucinate eight days before he died.

JUST RIGHT... THE CORRECTIONS by Jonathan Franzen. A beautiful tale of family dysfunction and how we carry what we learn from our parents into our own lives. All that dysfunction comes to a when the patriarch's failing health due to Parkinson's disease brings the kids home. I heard Franzen speak two years ago at Grub Street's Muse and the Marketplace and finally got around to reading this masterpiece. First sentence: THE MADNESS of an autumn prairie cold front coming through.

I've been shopping hard for others, and need a few treats myself. Here's what I've ordered for MY stocking:

WHAT MAY HAVE BEEN - Love Letters of Jackson Pollock and Dori G by Gary Percesepe and Susan Tepper (Cervena Books Press). Because it just sounds so SEXY! And friends have recommended it. And because I love Pollock.

Coming soon... WEST OF HERE by Jonathan Evison. I adored ALL ABOUT LULU. Enuf said.

Jennifer Egan's A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD has a lot of people talking. She presents her story in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd POVs, along with a powerpoint presentation. Must read for myself to see how pulls the story off.

Happy reading, writing, and shopping! And whenever possible, please purchase your books through independent retailers! Peace, Linda


  1. A cool list here, Linda. The Correctoins sounds like an intriguing read. What a first sentence!

    And one of these days I'll get around to "Gravity's Rainbow".

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Oh I can't wait to hear about the Pollock letters. I am so drawn to his work and art/artist that lean that direction

  3. I don't think I will read Gravity's Rainbow for a very long time. Maybe when I have an empty house and lots of time (ha!) The others sound intriguing, though. I will have to add some to my list.

  4. It's weird, I've read several of Pynchon's books and like them but after 3 or 4 attempts couldn't get going into GR. I think it's worth another try though.

    The Pollock letters sound intriguing.

  5. I love this idea!! I might do a copycat post :) hope you're flattered, not offended :D

  6. GR is a tough read. It took me about 8 months to finally plow through it. But it IS beautiful writing and the characters, all several hundred of them, fascinate. Mark, I haven't had the courage to read any more Pynchon; perhaps in the new year.

    whaddayamean, you know what they say about imitation! I actually think I got my idea two years ago about buying and reviewing indy pubbers and debut authors from someone you know ;^) happy pie and cookie season. Peace...