Read Immobility by Brian Evenson, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Hobart 13. Finished Diane William’s Vicky Swanky is a Beauty and Lorrie Moore’s Anagrams. Started Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books by Marcel Benabou.
Some short notes on these after the jump.
–Immobility was released by Tor, a science-fiction publisher, but the book is something of a hybrid — it takes cues from Beckett just as much as P.K. Dick. It’s also not an entirely successful mix. Evenson frequently repeats plot points, as if he doesn’t trust his reader to follow the story. He also relies too much on dialogue for exposition — there are other, less utilitarian ways of fleshing the story out and moving it forward. That said, the plot was propulsive and I wanted it to keep going. If he writes a sequel, I’ll definitely read it.
-I’m a little embarrassed that I hadn’t read To Kill a Mockingbird before last month. It’s one of those books I missed out on by switching high schools — I had to read Animal Farm three times instead. I loved To Kill a Mockingbird though. Harper Lee focuses heavily on physical details and the voice of Scout is crystal clear. The novel contains a great deal of action as well as inner turmoil, and Lee balances them with incredible skill.
-Lorrie Moore’s Anagrams was wonderful — she understands that sad and funny are tightly connected, and the novel’s structure of thematically connected stories works well. The last and longest section, “The Nun of That,” veers into miserabilia occasionally (still on the fence about the imaginary daughter and real, terrible brother) but overall it holds together.
-Not sure if I’ll make it through Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books. It’s an interesting concept, but lacks the playfulness of Queneau or the emotional core of Perec.
-Enjoyed Amy Butcher’s story “Hickory Hill” in Hobart 13. Great details, fully realized characters, just a joy to read. And the Amelia Gray’s thunderous story, “These Are the Fables” closes out the issue with a bang.