Saturday, February 14, 2009

52 books in 52 weeks

1. A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar

This was a great book with which to begin the year - witty, detailed, and full of energy. The main character - an Egyptian-Palestinian adolescent girl in Kuwait - practically runs off the page. Having followed Randa's blog since long before the book was published, I was really hoping the book would be a smash and it surpassed my expectations.

2. Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell

A friend gave me this book at my going away party this summer in New York and I finally got around to reading it. What was I waiting for? This book is a syntactic treasure. Each and every line describing the life of a repressed mid-century matron is crafted to so accurately capture the seething reality below the pretense that it is painful and, yet, hilarious. And then so painful again.

3. The Collector by John Fowles

I will never be able to watch a crime show on TV that pictures a young girl kidnapped and kept in a creep's basement - and believe me, there are so many (three at least in the past two weeks!) - without returning to this book. Miranda has now become the narrative epitome of every "collected" innocent struggling to survive in captivity. Fowles's ending approaches perfection.

4. Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties by Beth Kobliner

This book might have been helpful if it was 1997 and I was not slipping out of its target audience a little more each day.

5. McSweeney's Issue 29

I just started my first subscription to McSweeney's Quarterly. Some of the stories were fantastic and all were worth reading. I do have to steal a line from my friend, however. He mentioned that while all of the writing was terrific, some of the plots were not worthy of the prose, like watching a bad movie with amazing special effects.

6. Jane: A Murder by Maggie Nelson

So far this year, between A Map of Home and Jane, written by a grad school colleague, I am pretty darn proud of the women writers I know. Maggie's poetic processing of her aunt's brutal murder is so inventive and moving, I had to stop and literally catch my breath at one point in a crowded waiting room and I didn't care who noticed. Buy this book.

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