Tuesday, December 29, 2009

reads in progress

Lorrie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs. Not yet finished, but I still concede a wee bit of disappointment—if only because I'm so dazzled by her short stories.

Paul Yoon's Once the Shore: artful and enchanting narratives by former fellow Bread Loafer.

Slowly chiseling away at Darwin's The Descent of Man, as research for a novel I'm writing, and The Art of Fact: A Historical Anthology of Literary Journalism, in preparation for a nonfiction course I'll be teaching in the spring.

And I've definitely overestimated what I thought I could read during winter break ... Have a back-breaking bag of paperbacks that will likely have to wait their turn. Sigh.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Courtney,

    I just heard you read at Bookcourt and particularly enjoyed your reading, so I came home and looked you up. I especially liked the forward momentum in your piece. The very straight forward way in which you moved the story forward somehow felt bold and fresh.
    I am also glad to see someone else who is a fan of Lorrie Moore's stories say that she was disappointed by A Gate at the Stairs. I, too, am a huge fan of Lorrie Moore as a short story writer—I think Birds of America is brilliant, but was quite disappointed with this novel, especially in light of the extravagant praise it received from writers like Jonathan Lethem, whom I felt should have known better. I loved her punning in some of the stories, but there she confined it to a few of the characters--it was their bond. Here, virtually everyone she meets and knows is a punster, which felt ridiculous to me. Many aspects of the Brinks' story also bothered me. It didn't seem believable that they would go to all the trouble to adopt the baby and then pay virtually no attention to her. Her father does nothing with her and her mother is only seen petting her hair. The back story of how they killed their first child also felt like a cheap trick, and I'm sick of novels that explain couples' estrangement with the death of a child. Why does one have to have some horror story to justify it? Doesn't everyone know estrangement is all too easy when everything is going right? The heroine claims to be horrified with how easily the Brinks give up their child, but then she and the author basically drop the little girl--as if she were just a narrative ploy--with equal ease. I actually could keep going on, but I want.
    Anyway, thanks for your reading and your comments on the blog.
    I work at the Writer's Space on Court Street, so perhaps we'll cross paths again at some point.