Books Read :: September & October

I never get enough time to read. I am always reading what I've assignment students or reading submissions or reading student papers. This is what I've managed to read since the beginning of the semester this year:

The Demon Room by J.E. Reich

I bought this for my Kindle because Jaime is a GS contrib from issue 3.2, and I love supporting my GS contribs. I read it, taking a break from what I've been reading on my Kindle since January, The Complete Sherlock Holmes. I love Holmes and Watson, but I can only read so much of it before I feel like I know the answer to every mystery before it's been solved. Anyway, what a pleasant surprise this little book was! It's done like a character sketch almost with a devious plot which jumps back and forth in time in just the right ways. It takes you to early twentieth century Europe and invests you in an artist who's haunted by personal demons. I think this would be a great book for someone traveling who wants something to read in its entirety during a trip.

The Hanging on Union Square by H.T. Tsiang

This book is reviewed in Gigantic Sequins 5.1, scheduled to go to print in January 2014. While our Book Reviews Editor, Craig Chisholm, wrote the review for it, he lent me his copy, and I decided to read it. I need copies of the books we review to help when I'm copyediting the journal, but I really love reading what we promote in GS, too. This is a new print of an old novel, written by a Chinese-American Marxist about the great depression. Its time period aside, it remains relevant in this day and age.

Bury Me in My Jersey by Tom McAllister

I reviewed this over at Poets on Sports. Read up!

The Pine Barrens by John McPhee

My friend Elise sent me this book about my home state, and I couldn't have been more happy to read it. She said it made she and her husband want to visit NJ, and it makes me want to get to know the state I was born in more than I already do. Along with appearances in the book of places I already know and love in the Pine Barrens like Mt. Misery, Gabriel Davies Tavern, and Whitesbog Preservation Trust (where Geoff and I originally wanted to get married) that I loved reading more on, I was also thrilled by all the facts and history about them that I hadn't heard about before. Particularly thrilling for any NJ resident, past or present, is any history, large or small, of the Jersey Devil.

Percussion Grenade by Joyelle McSweeney

I bought this in NYC at St. Mark's Bookshop because I needed something to read and I was in a rush. Had I not been in a rush, I would have read the preface where McSweeney tells her readers that these poems/plays are meant to be read outloud, and I probably wouldn't have bought it. Her writing is very conceptual, which isn't really my thing. I enjoyed certain sections over others, particularly the second to last section, which was a play. The rest of the book seemed like very well done wordplay that I couldn't "get into"-- I'm not sure if one is supposed to "get into" poems like that in the way that I like "getting into" books. I was just doing it wrong, I think.

Into the Snow by Aygi Gennady

This was the book I finished before I bought McSweeney's book. It's a book of poems by a Russian. I liked them for the most part, except I can generally never get past the fact that a book's been translated.

Thursday by Ariana Reines

I bought this at AWP this year because it was cool looking and I'd always wanted to read something by Reines. The way the book was bound made it hard to read, as I feared I would "break" its binding. It was chapbook-length and I kinda wanted more from it when it was done.

Metropole by Ferenc Karinthy

GS Fiction editor Zach Yontz gave me this book for my birthday club. I think I remember saying in the recent past that I had read all my birthday club books. That was clearly a lie, as this was the last of them. I really loved this book. It was about a man who gets on a plane and winds up in a country where he can't understand the language at all. The main character is a linguist, so it's especially frustrating to him that he can't figure out the language, and therefore doesn't know where he is, how he got there, how to leave, and how to attempt to live once he realizes the language barrier is preventing him from getting, ultimately, to the conference he thought he was headed towards.


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