Sunday, May 23, 2010

Romantic creatures = leeches

I've been venturing into poetry more recently, and have been introduced to Jeffrey McDaniel, whose poem "The Quiet World" is one of my favorites.  So I've picked up two of his collections.  Today I finished The Splinter Factory.  I love McDaniel's way with words.  His metaphors are surprising but apt, his lines poignant but edgy, and I find myself sighing with affect when I get to the end of many of his poems.  I don't know a lot about poetry so I'm finding it hard to describe exactly what it is about his poetry that gets under my skin and burrows into me, but it does.  The Splinter Factory is really really good, but I especially like "When a Man Hasn't Been Kissed", "The Benjamin Franklin of Monogamy", "The Mirror in Which I'll Be Judged", "The First Straw", "What Year Was Heaven Desegregated?", "The Foxhole Manifesto" and "The Everlasting Staircase".

The thing I like about his poetry is that for a newbie poetry reader like me, I find his poetry extremely accessible.  I highly recommend him.  I absolutely loved loved this collection.

Last thoughts on Civilwarland

I really enjoyed this book, but I have to say I didn't like "Bounty", the novella, as much as I liked the other stories.  Like his other stories, it was set in some alternate world, and the protagonist had a quirky unique voice. There were poignant moments for sure, like the memory of the father leaving them, but all in all, I didn't feel the quirkiness of the voice translated as well into a longer form, and I definitely felt the ending of the story was dissatisfying, which is surprising given that I've raved about the endings for most of his other short stories.  Which goes to show that perhaps Saunders should best stick to short stories for now -- or perhaps he has yet to learn his stride for a longer form.

Overall though, I really really liked Civilwarland in Bad Decline.  It shows me the possibilities of the short form, and was one of those short story collections that I really wanted to get through.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Perfect unexpected endings.

I'm halfway through Civilwarland in Bad Decline, which I am compeletely loving.  I'm so thankful for grad school for introducing him to me, because I'm not sure I otherwise would have picked George Saunders up, but he's simply fantastic.  I really like the title piece, as well as a couple of the others, but I just recently finished "Offloading for Mrs. Schwartz" and loved it so much.  The thing that Saunders is so good at is taking stories into a place you don't expect at all, but are completely perfect, so that you're like, "Of course this is how it has to end!"  "Mrs. Schwartz" was completely heartbreaking in the way it ended, but simply perfect.  So good.  I'm now halfway through the novella portion, "Bounty"... and will soon be done.

And yes, now that school is over, I'm knee-deep in catch-up.

Outstanding.

The only real thing I have to say about Autobiography of Red now that I'm done with it is that it's a jewel.  Outstanding, completely completely outstanding.  I don't even know what to say about it.  It's like a little gift, a little treasure, and I don't even have the words to explain how I feel about it.  I need to read it again in order to have anything to say about it.  Anne Carson blows me away.  This book is going on my list of favorites.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Speaking of Anne Carson

So I went to her amazing fabulous reading at Poet's House last week, where she read from her new not-quite-book, Nox.  I didn't buy it before the reading because it was $30 which I felt was hefty, but by the time I got out, I wanted it and it was sold out.  The book (object?) is sort of an elegy to her dead brother, and was really moving.  Anne Carson's ability to make something simultaneously heartbreaking and beautiful is absolutely breathtaking.  I love her so much.  It's so important to me that I find authors whose language induces my writing on a mood and emotional level, and she does that for me.

Here's NY Mag's review of Nox.  I think I might end up getting this, but I now I have three of her books that I need to get through first.