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Thursday, May 27, 2010

May books read / ate is the past tense of eat / part one

The class I've been teaching at Rowan University ended. I sadly said goodbye to my first two classes I ever taught this month, and following this farewell, I devoured a number of books. Eight to be exact. It's the 27th, so if I manage to finish Bolano's 2666 by midnight on the 30th, it will be nine, but I'm doubt that will happen.

Because of the large number of books I finished reading in May, I will write the first half of this now, and the second probably soon after the month ends. Enjoy.

BOOKS READ: MAY: PART ONE

A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
To be fair, I started reading this in April and read it for a long time. This book will change the way that you look at American History. That's it's motivation, and it succeeds. I was afraid that Zinn would get a bit preachy, but instead he gets the majority of his preaching over in the beginning of the book and just let's his title "People" speak for themselves through references, sources, documents and articles of history. This book is American history from the point of view of everyone who the history books don't give a point of view to. In it you will learn the story of labor unions, why Andrew Jackson does not deserve to be on the twenty dollar bill, and how the history of this country's origins is far from the fairy tale that elementary school students learn. This book is not basic, but long and detailed. But it's not too dense. I thought it was worth every page.

For You, For You, I Am Trilling These Songs by Kathy Rooney
This book of essays is one of those books that is both fun and smart simultaneously. Rooney was one of my teachers at Emerson College; she taught my Intro to Personal Essay class, and this book testifies to her talents that she shared with us during that class. The best thing about this book is its honesty, poignant yet brutal at times. Rooney is not someone whose honesty you want to be on the other side of, yet I appreciate that she is willing to tell all in order to let other woman, other humans, even, know that it's okay to act and fell and be this way or that. My favorite essay in it is titled "All Tomorrow's Parties" (...get it?) and is about a party Rooney attends after the end of a semester with her students from that semester.

Disobedience by Alice Notley
Notley read at Rowan towards the end of the semester, and I started reading this book of hers in honor of her reading. Let me just say, first, that seeing this woman read in person is worth how ever far you have to drive to get there. She loves doing it and exudes poetry; despite her many years of experience in the field, she has still got it, whatever "it" is. This book itself is my favorite of hers I've read so far. It's like a novel-journal of poetry that you can just read and keep reading and just when you think you don't know what's going on, you get it, you relate, you're in.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
This book was a birthday gift from my friend Skye, who I promised I would read it for as soon as I was done Howard Zinn. So, I picked it up, wary of the titled, but intrigued by the blurb on the back cover. This is perhaps one of the most driven, moving and even at times suspenseful modern novels I've ever read. It's divided in ways that give you insight to many of its different characters, all of whom you are routing for throughout, and after I finished reading this book, I wished the story would just keep going. If you are looking for a fantastic, smart and touching (without being anywhere close to sappy) book to read this summer, I highly recommend this book. It's smart people's great modern fiction. Hard to come by. It tells the story of a man who seeks attention who once wrote some novels of which he no longer has the manuscripts, a widow with two children who is translating a book that was a gift from her late husband for a mystery man she only knows via letters and the people around them.

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