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Friday, January 2, 2015

Books Read :: December 2014

REMEMBER THAT TIME that I cheated for my Goodreads challenge because blah blah blah and this and that and this? Well, it happened. And I only KIND OF CHEATED because Goodreads in & of itself is a cheater.  I SAID IT.

So here's what happened: I was so close. But then I realized I wasn't going to make it. The turtle was going to beat me. So I ran fast, and I found chapbooks that had listings on Goodreads THAT I OWNED and SHOULD HAVE READ BY NOW ANYWAY, and I made a small stack of them, and I read a number of them. I read four of them. Then, it was nearly midnight. There I sat, at my stepsister and her husband's house. Evie, their daughter, was headed to bed. It was storytime. So I read THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR by Eric Carle and also THE DANGEROUS ALPHABET by Neil Gaiman. So that's what happened. I'm not ashamed. But I made it. I read 52 books (+) in 2014. And for 2015 my challenge is 50. I plan on cheating again if I must. So there.

BOOKS READ IN DECEMBER, 2014 (excluding the children's books mentioned above)

Cartwheel by Jennifer DuBois
Jennifer DuBois was the first-ever GS flash fiction contest judge, and her debut novel A Partial History of Lost Causes was one of my favorite books I read the year it came out, which I believe was 2012? I was really into Cartwheel, which is a fictional look at what it might be like to be the part of a family in a similar situation as a popular news story-- that of Amanda Knox. DuBois resets the story in South America, and she is fabulous at exploring the minds of her characters. (THIS PARENTHESES SERVES AS A SPOILER ALERT BECAUSE I DON'T LIKE KNOWING *ANYTHING* AT ALL ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS IN A BOOK WHEN I FIRST READ IT, MINUS THE JACKET COPY AND I EVEN SOMETIMES WISH I HADN'T READ THAT)--However, I feel like there are enough clues for a reader to sort of "deduce" what exactly happened, but not enough for me to be 100% sure what exactly happened-- and because we were given the privilege of sharing in the thoughts of a number of different categories, I really wanted some sort of pay off at/towards the end wherein we find out whether or not the woman whose "crime" the story follows really did it or not. At the same time, I am afraid if there WAS a payoff, I'd wish there weren't? I don't know. I enjoyed the book. It left me wanting to know more. Perhaps that was it's purpose.

Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto
I've had this book for what seems like forever, and I'm really glad I finally read it. Banana Yoshimoto is a Japanese writer, and there's something about the way she explores her characters and the world around them that's nearly spiritual and different from most everything else I read. She makes phenomena believable as reality, and what she's doing really feels like the kind of prose/story we love at Gigantic Sequins.

Wish You Were Here by Matthew Dickman
And then, the chapbooks began. Last year at AWP I bought a couple Spork Press chapbooks, and this one I read first. At first, I was enjoying the poetry sort of separately from itself-- I was like "that was a good poem that Matthew Dickman wrote", "so was that", but then, as I went on, I was like, "who is this Matthew Dickman character, and why have I not made more of an effort to read his work in the past?!" I loved the chapbook, I love its cover, I really love Spork press. My favorite poem in the collection was title "Xanax". Here is a quote from it:
One day in the middle
of summer, I was eighteen
years old and the lungs
of everything alive, the lungs
of the school yard
and the lungs of a jellyfish.
blud by Feng Sun Chen
There is an octopus, of half of one, on the cover of this Spork Press chapbook by Feng Sun Chen. The poems in this book were weird, sometimes in a way that made me go "cool", other times in a way that made me go "gross" (but in an i'm-interested-in-science way not a "boogers-are-sticky" way), and finally in a way that made me feel kind of "meh" but still want to keep reading. Many of the poems are titled "blud", and one of them, on page 15, was my favorite in the collection. Here's a quote from it:
all over this body gates open meanwhile.
punctuation gushes out in sick white.
all feed.
The Sky is a Well & Other Stories by Claudia Smith
I have no idea how long I've owned and not read this book, and this is a huge oversight on my part. It's the FIRST-EVER winner of the Rose Metal Press short short contest, and it deserved to win. (I mean, I guess, I didn't read all of the other submissions, but--) so many parts of this book made me go damn.

What a Tremendous Time We're Having! by Nick Sturm
The last poetry chapbook I read in 2015 was this book, which Nick gave to me at AWP one year. I had to staple it together myself. All of the poems have the same title. All of them were good. We published a co-written poem by Nick & Wendy Xu in GS 3.2, and though I've read this solo work in bits and pieces in online journals, mostly, this was the first "Nick Sturm" chapbook I read, and I was glad for it. It came out from iO press, and here's a quote from it:
I spend all day stranded on this digital archipelago
liking everything My spirit animal is a bear
with a confetti cannon strapped to its back
The point is to surprise you & then maul you
into pieces of joy


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