Books Read: May

When tallying my books for this month, because I read a number of shorter books, I counted four of them as half books. Luckily, two of each of the four were put out by the same publishing companies, so it felt "right" to count them together as half a book with another book by the same publishing company. I also found myself reading along a "theme", at first my accident and then on purpose. I read a good number of books of modern short stories by women. Part of this was because these books were what friends gave to me for my Birthday Club, which in itself is interesting. I am past my halfway mark as of the end of this month, and I think that's a good sign.

Mission: to read 52 books in 2012
Status: 32/52
Books Read, May: 8 

Notes on Books Read:

25) Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
I read this book without realizing that they are making it into a film starring the adorable kid who played Hugo in the Scorsese film of the same name that came out in 2011. There are a whole series of books related to this book, and I would be interested in reading them in the future, as the world created by this book as well as its characters are interesting. The current fascination with post-apocalyptic themes in popular books/movies makes sci-fi such as this more attractive. The dystopic world of Ender's Game is along the lines of the world in 1984. I'd like to teach this book to a lit class along with other similarly themed books.

26) The Book of Things by Ales Stegner
This book of poetry was one of my Birthday Club books, as were many I read this month. I love the idea of using parts of speech as a guide to write things. I had a small book I made years ago called a noun is a person place or thing that consisted of poems about people, places and things. I am always curious when I read works in translation what, if anything, was lost in the translation. My liking of this book snowballed as I read on, and I liked the second half of it better than the first. Currently, I can't find this book, but I am not yet going to add it to my "list of books that are missing". If it doesn't turn up soon, though, I will. 

27) Monster Party by Lizzy Acker
This was another of my Birthday Club books, and perhaps my favorite of the books I read this month. I wish I could write like Lizzy Acker. Also, I was hanging out on set being an extra in the film ImagiGARY when reading most of this book, and at one point I realized that if the apocalypse happened like I'm sure it will if/when it happens, I would be stuck with my fellow extras, not my apocalypse-ready boyfriend. So, I made them list their apocalypse skills, and we prepared ourselves. A few hours later, still on set, a story in Party Monster came up about the apocalypse-- "Baby". Now, normally, I'd jump on a situation like that to convince people I am slightly psychic sometimes (I AM), but instead, something different happened: I thought "Lizzy Acker! You are amazing!" She is. I especially appreciate the way that she combines stories of both extreme "confessional" realism and absurdist realism (is that a thing?). Sometimes a story was uncomfortable, but those ones, they were my favorite. I really loved this little collection. 

28 and 28.5) Normally Special by xTx and Please Don't be Upset and other stories by Brandi Wells
So after I finished with Lizzy Acker, I wanted another shorter book, so I went with the stories of xTx, a gift from the great Adam Moorad. I am always initially "thrown off" by anonymous authors with odd names (see the review of Emergency Room Wrestling by "The Dirty Poet" in GS 3.1), and something about this collection had me asking why does this person not use their real name? who is this person? Some of the stories were disturbing and others were... well, most of them were disturbing. But good. I think I liked "The Mill Pond" best. ...Reading the Brandi Wells book of short stories, by the same press Tiny Hardcore Press) made these books make more sense somehow. My favorite story in that tiny book was called "Contortionist Ballerina".  

29) Man's Companions by Joanna Ruocco
This was another birthday club book! I chose this specifically to continue my trend of reading woman writers writing short stories. I found this collection to be the most diverse-- Ruocco has the talent to switch style and subject matter, and the collection still works as a whole. The first story that really grabbed me was a very non-typical story about two girls stranded on a desert island together called "Frog". Their complicated relationship and unique situation enthralled me and when the six pages of story were over, I was both pleased with it and sad it was over. Other stories I particularly enjoyed were "Flies", "Dog", and "Bones", which were all in the second half of the collection. I liked the way that the stories were name simplistically, and often after animate beings.  

30) Pee on Water by Rachel B. Glaser
This book of stories comes to me by way of a purchase I made from Publishing Genius Press-- after many, many recommendations of it, I was finally ready for it. It came in handy as the last book in my succession of books of short stories by women writers. This book has an excellent cover, and though all of the stories were extremely well written, I found that I didn't relate to all of them in the way that I wanted to. I think it was the hype. I think I wanted too much to love this book and have it be life-changing that even though it was great, only certain stories truly struck me. "The Monkey Handler" itself wowed me in a way that makes me want to force all readers to read that story, and the final story that bears the name of the collection itself gave me a similar feeling, along with a good sense of finality. 

31 and 31.5) Grey Inserts Himself, Like an Oven Mitt in a Top Hat by Brian Warfield and Oak Ridge by Adam Moorad
These two small books were put out by Turtleneck Press. I didn't read them back to back, but I read them rather close to each other. They are very, very different little books, but I enjoyed each in their own way. I read Oak Ridge first, which is the kind of book you can go back through again and again and find something new in unless you are one of those readers who pays an immaculate amount of attention. Even in such a small book, Moorad's writing itself took the lead for me when it came to what I was paying attention to. The way he structures a sentence, chooses to say something, is often as interested as the plot itself of this small book that felt like a longish, saddish short story, or a shortish novella of a life in dirty pieces. Warfield's book of stories is absurd and delightful... and hilarious. That Grey is a dab of paint never gets old. His sparse style allows for a certain level of humor that made me laugh out loud and want to quote the book, in hopes that anyone reading what I was quoting might laugh and then also want to read the book. Both Moorad and Warfield are Giganti Sequins contributors (2.1 & 3.2, respectively), and I was glad to read work by them elsewhere.

32) The Myth of the Simple Machines by Laurel Snyder
For some reason, I found these poems hard to follow. I spent a lot of time reading on set for a movie I was an extra in, and it may have been the late hours and occasional mundane chatter of people around me, but the machines I found these poems to me were either too simple or not as simple as L. Snyder intended them to seem. The poems I did like in this book, though, struck me. Some of my favorites were "Just There", "Elegy for the Fair" and "Triptych of Useful Rules (Pictures)". I had a similar relationship with this book as I did with the Glaser book. When I liked something, it stuck out to me. However, when I failed to understand, even after a few rereads in this case, what a poem was trying to  say to me, the poem faded away into the next. Different from the Glaser book of stories, though, I felt as though these poems were supposed to be interconnected, and perhaps I lost something by not "feeling" all of them as I did those that struck me.


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