Guilty

“I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” – James Baldwin
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Weekend Reads

“If one of those babies were poor, I don’t suspect you’d want to punish her because her dad got laid off from his manufacturing job or because leukemia killed her older brother and bankrupted her parents just in time for her birth.” -Rob Delany Continue reading

“What have you been reading, Jarvis?”

Since I teach English and I write stuff, people always ask me what I read.  I find that question amazingly invasive.  It is like asking me what I watch or what I listen to.  I spend so much time doing these things that I sometimes want to keep them personal, keep them to myself.  However, I completely understand why you are curious about me.  I know, I know.  I am awesome.  Here are the last three books I’ve read.

Blindness by Jose Saramago.  Erin recommended this book to me, and the next one on the list.  She hoped that by reading these books, it would help me finish my latest manuscript.  She was correct.  Both books helped me understand the problems of my book, and I edited my book to avoid some of the nonsense that Blindness tossed on me.  But I also used some energy from Blindness to help me write a scene in my book that I didn’t want to have in it.  Blindness is about people going, yes, blind, and the insanity that came from it.  There are a few images later in the book, a few scenes that I just could not get through, so this one is on my “Didn’t finish” list.  It is amazing, however.  Jose Saramago can describe the world unlike anyone else.  I’m thinking of picking up another novel by him, one that won’t sicken me as much.

Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien.  I was reading this at my favorite coffee joint and the waitress there said, “That’s one of my favorite books.”  I have no idea why.  Stop. Stop.  The book is brilliant, and as I was reading it, I was thinking that it was going to become a favorite.  But, with only twenty pages left, I completely lost interest.  I’m not sure if the story just dragged, or if I just stopped caring, or if the narrative suddenly created a villain where none needed to be.  I can’t call it.  Whatever it was, I completely lost interest in the book.  But I’ll recommended to you, because I am slowly finding out that I am “pickier” about everything while most people just eat the bean dip and go about their day.

Man in the Dark by Paul Auster.  Yep.  My favorite book.  No novel that I’ve ever read worked with the narrative structure, played with what a novel is supposed to do, and then completely trick you.  You think it is about an old man, a parallel universe, and the infliction of loss.  It turns out to be a novel just about loss, about regret, about fear, about love, about acceptance, about the good and bad of the world and how they mingle.  This book is sheer brilliance.  I was reading it thinking, yes, yes, this is why I became a writer, this is why I read, this is what I want to do. Paul Auster plays with you.  He makes fun of you.  And he gives you that emotional connection, that need to love, that reason to love.  Finishing this book was the best thing I’ve done in months and I would happily, happily let you borrow it.  Better. Ask me and I’ll buy it for you.  One of the best books I’ve ever read.