What I Am Reading Now
by Jonathan Franzen
150 pages into this book and I just cannot endure any more of it. Maybe that is why the book got panned by the critics and ignored by the National Book Awards. But I wanted to see for myself. Well, the author being highly jaundiced about American modern culture, what I see so far was a bunch of distasteful sad characters with few redeeming qualities. And it was only getting worse as I read on. So now I’m reading a book of travel pieces…the first one from Slate.com about Dubai. I don’t think I will go there. But maybe I’ll go back to Freedom some day when I’m up for it…if ever.
How To Be Alone
by Jonathan Franzen
Having read his prize-winning “Corrections,” I decided to read this book of essays before I tackle his new book…”Freedom.” The title essay, “How To Be Alone,” was an honest and painful description of the reader’s and writer’s feeling of alienation in an era where computerized social contact and cultural change has replaced real community. The pieces were interesting and well-written but I suspect the author…describing himself in the title piece…is a none too happy dude.
Angler, The Cheney Vice Presidency
by Barton Gellman, writer and blogger. Won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was named among the 100 Notable Books of 2008 by The New York Times. Gellman is now helping adapt the book for an HBO miniseries. Now we know who the real President was during the Bush tenure. Truly alarming. I have no doubt he is still at work.
The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson
A well written page-turner for sure!
The Glass Castle
a memoir by Jeannette Wall
Amazingly non-judgmental account of growing up in a bright well-educated family who was homeless or on the edge of homelessness and hungry much of the time due to an alcoholic father and co-dependent ineffectual artist mother and the parents’ refusal, on principle, to accept charity or government assistance.
The News From Paraguay
by Lily Tuck
The five year War of the Triple Alliance was started by Francisco Solano Lopez in 1864 to intervene on behalf of Uruguay against Brazil and Argentina during which Paraguay lost 800,000 people…from one million down to 200,000…mostly men, not only by war but by diseases such as cholera. It ended with “Franco’s” death in 1870.
Wiki: “He was sent in 1853 as minister plenipotentiary to Britain, France and Italy, and spent a year and a half in Europe. He purchased large quantities of arms and military supplies, together with several steamers, and organized a project for building a railroad and establishing a French colony in Paraguay. He also became infatuated with the empire of Napoleon III and Napoleon himself. López equipped his army with exact copies of uniforms of Napoleonic army. He ordered for himself exact replica of Napoleon’s crown. While there, he met Parisian courtesan Eliza Lynch (born in Ireland) and brought her with him back to Paraguay. There she was his mistress and de-facto first lady till his death.”
Generally considered the most devastating of all Latin American wars, I have never read a more painful but beautifully written account of destruction, murder, torture and betrayal.
Lily Tuck won the National Book Award for it in 2004.