Thursday, May 3, 2012

Three for Thursday

Before a recent stretch of travel I had wanted to post about two books I had finished and make it a "Two-fer Tuesday" like they do on WLUP but I missed Tuesday, went out of town and visited NYC and DC and now am back and have a "Three-fer Thursday".  So away we go.......and I should note that all of these were read in paper format.  The first two were even from the library! 

After finishing "Devil All the Time" by Donald Ray Pollock I wanted to read his first book "Knockemstiff".  Ok, "Knockemstiff" is a real place in Ohio.  This one is a collection of short stories and it's dark.  You would *almost* think the things in this book could not happen until you start to look at some of the stories on the Yahoo news feed.  People do weird and violent things - to themselves and each other. 

The people of Knockemstiff would probably knock your block off if you showed them pity.  They would probably also scrap with you if you ignored them.  So it's probably best to read about them and cut them wide berth if you ever meet them in person.  They are proud but they know they are not the top of the heap.  Some try to better themselves but that can cause their downfall.  They may think about leaving, but they don't.  Their lives are dangerous but I'm not sure they would feel that way.  This one is not for the squeamish but I think Pollock is a great writer and will be on the lookout for other books from him.

"Sheltering Sky" was the Newberry selection for April.  I can say I'm glad I read it but I would not tell you to read it, nor would I ever read it again.  According to the people in the Newberry group this book was pretty popular when it came out and people thought Bowles was cool.  Could this be an example of a modern classic that maybe has not stood the test of time?  Or at least it was not a masterpiece for me.  The characters reminded me of current day reality stars that go to an exotic location.  It means nothing to them - they might as well be at home except for the chance to say, when they return, that they went to an exotic locale. 

Bought this one during a recent trip to Milwaukee at Downtown Books.  Great store if you are in the area.  I liked "Liar's Club" by Mary Karr and now want to re-read it.  This memoir chronicles her college years, marriage, birth of her son and beginning of her teaching and writing career all while she is drinking, and then working to get sober.  Parts of it reminded me of Anne Lamott.  Karr, however, is darker.  What struck me, and what is contained in all addiction memoirs, is this game of comparing yourself to another addict.  Thinking "I can't be that bad because........I have not crashed my car, still have a home, have a job, etc.".  But at one meeting Karr is challenged to also consider an empty life as a result of her drinking.

David Foster Wallace appears first as another meeting attendee and then as a boyfriend.  Interesting to see, in this memoir, pieces that will be woven into "Infinite Jest".  Karr also includes other people's poetry at the beginning of each section and I have not read much poetry but really enjoyed the selections she chose.  Karr has published poetry so maybe I will read some of that in the future.  (And "Lit" was a good non-fiction companion to "Knockemstiff".  Even though the people in Karr's book are not as violent, they do share some similarities with the residents in Pollock's stories).

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