04 April 2013

2013 reading list, January- March

Art Spiegelman, Maus II: and here my troubles began. NY: Pantheon, 1991.

The second half of Spiegelman’s graphic memoir with mice continues his father’s story, with the action resuming as Vladek and Anja are captured and held at Auschwitz.

William Young, John Tortes “Chief” Meyers: a baseball biography. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012.

See full review here

Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America. NY: Dell, 1967.

As the back cover says, reading Trout Fishing in America won’t help you catch more fish, but it does have something to do with trout fishing, which is one of the narrator’s favorite activities. Trout Fishing is more a character than an activity, though; it is an ideal of what life could be, and thoughts of it are the narrator’s constant companion. This is a strange little book, 87% prose poem and 13% fictional autobiography, but repeated readings don’t really help understand anything except that it is a strange little book, and worth repeated readings.

Tadeusz Borowski, This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen. NY: Penguin, 1976.

This slim collection of stories about the Auschwitz camps is remarkable for the narrator’s complete emotional detachment from the horrors it describes: “Between two throw-ins in a soccer game, right behind my back, three thousand people had been put to death.” Where Spiegelman focuses on how the camps changed survivors, Borowski details the everyday mechanisms, and dehumanizations, that allowed the ‘lucky’ ones to avoid death, forcing us, with the title story’s narrator, to ask, “Are we good people?”—and answers, resoundingly, “no.”

Chuck Palahniuk, Pygmy. NY: Doubleday, 2009.

The subject headings for this book are foreign exchange students-fiction, and terrorism-fiction. Pygmy is the nickname given a very small Communist-bloc exchange student to the US by his host family. The story is told as a series of his dispatches to the home office; each recounts either an important event in Operation Havoc; or an important point in Pygmy’s development.

B.F. Dealeo, Fifty Shades of Brains. Seattle: Ambauminable LLC, 2013.

See full review here

Igor Sakhnovsky, The Vital Needs Of The Dead. London: Glagoslav Publications, 2012.

I tried, repeatedly, over a number of months, but this book is like reading thru gauze. I don't know if the story is worthwhile, though the author is well regarded, because I could not get to the story. I have given up on it, and cannot recommend it as anything but kindling.  This story suggests the problem is in translation.