What I’m Reading:
The Flower Drum Song, C. Y. Lee
I am Forbidden, Anouk Markovits
What I Read:
The Rules of Civility, Amor Towles
Daniel Deronda, George Eliot
The Upside of Irrationality, Dan Ariely
The Stalker Chronicles, Carley Moore
Shortcomings, Adrian Tomine
The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
The Invisible Bridge, Julie Orringer
Nobody Ever Gets Lost, Jess Row
Where You Left Me, Jennifer Gardner Trulson
Incognegro, Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece
The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes
This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Palace Walk, by Naguib Mahfouz
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
The Mistress of Nothing, by Kate Pullinger. I liked it although I wasn’t wholly convinced by it. The premise is that we are hearing the story of a real British writer through her lady’s maid. The problem I had with it is that the lady’s maid is awfully sophisticated for someone with as little education as she would have had. I had a hard time, therefore, buying her voice. But the story is not bad, and there’s a bit of history in there for you, and as you might expect in a postcolonial era, lots of sympathy for the colonized Egyptians (and lower class British) and little for the aristocratic imperialists.
Out of Egypt by André Aciman. A beautiful memoir and a fine piece of literature. The story traces Aciman’s colorful family from Egypt to Europe and America.
American Indian Stories, Zitkala-Sa. Nice collection of stories, somewhat uneven. Really liked “The Widespread Enigma concerning Blue-Star Woman,” with its complex exploration of naming, identity, inter- and intra-cultural relations. But some were painfully didactic. I can imagine this book paired with Sui Sin Far’s Mrs. Spring Fragrance . . .
Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow. Loved it! It’s been so long since I last read a book by Doctorow. I saw the play years ago and have been meaning to read the book ever since. Doctorow weaves seemingly separate stories as well as fiction and history together almost seamlessly. If I have one complaint, it’s just that we don’t get to know any of the characters that well — they always remain at a distance.