I may not have mentioned this, but December was my version of spring break. Not in the jello-shots-sunburn-sleep-on-the-floor way, but in that I read only what I wanted to. It’s not a month with a lot of new releases so I spent a lot of time at the library, browsing shelves, and looking at my to-be-read list of recommendations from other bloggers to find backlist books I didn’t read when they came out. By and large it made for great reading! Here are just a few of the books that worked and didn’t work.
Published by Penguin Audio
Publication date: July 17, 2017
Who hasn’t fallen in love and thought their relationship was perfect? Only to wake up and find that reality is bit more complicated. Multiply that times ten and you’ll have some understanding of what Jen Waite went through. I listened to her memoir A Beautiful Terrible Thing and was as engrossed as I’ve ever been by nonfiction. She meets and falls in love with the man who becomes her husband and it isn’t until the months after the birth of their daughter that she discovers his deceit.
What follows are years of trying to get the truth—and to get free. The chapters of the memoir are divided into Before and After and in doing so, Waite frames each stage of her relationship with either the harsh light of reality or the soft golden glow of a woman in love. The reality is that her husband is a psychopath. Most of the charm and emotion is manufactured to suit his own needs and vanishes when a new object of desire appears. Waite narrates which gives a sense of immediacy to this fascinating listening.
Priestdaddy: A Memoir by Patricia Lockwood
Published by Riverhead Books
Publication date: May 2, 2017
Priestdaddy is probably right for someone but not me. Johnson’s style of writing was unusual in a way that did not work. Far too confusing, mixing metaphors, too many descriptors…read as jumbled. I realize this is a true story, but at 15% it was too far out there in a way that left me disinterested.
Joan Didion, David Thomson
Publication date: November 15, 2005
Wow. I know people who have raved about Joan Didion’s talent, but I had never read anything written by her. When I saw Play It as It Lays at the library I knew it was time to see what all the fuss was about. To put it in book terms: Play It As It Lays is the child born from Jacqueline Susanne’s 1960s Valley of the Dolls and the parent to Brett Easton Ellis’s 1980s Less Than Zero. If you’re not familiar with those books then what I mean is: it’s a depressing mash-up of Hollywood and the desiccated lives of the people who live there and work in the world of film. Didion’s prose is as detached and enervating as the people who move through this slender novel. Powerful reading.
Published by Ig Publishing
Publication date: June 13, 2017
Ash Falls is a book that encapsulates the atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest, each page exuding a feeling of damp wool and a grayness that sinks into the bones. The story is about an escaped murderer who is likely on his way back to Ash Falls the small town where his ex-wife, teenage son, and an entire community wait to see what he will do. It’s a big premise but author Warren Read makes it less thriller and more expansive, wondrous, human narrative. His writing is evocative in the way of Kent Haruf (my go-to author for perfect prose).
Have you had any great backlist reading recently?