Ten – Eleven – Twelve

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Here’s what’s on my bookshelf.

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The National Book Award Finalists have been announced.  I hardly recognize a one.  How — how! — is this possible?  But it sure looks like Junot Diaz is having one hell of a Fall 2012, and it’s only October 11.  There’s the release of his long-awaited short story collection, with 2 reviews in The New York Times (2!); there’s the MacArthur Genius Grant with its stash of cash.  And now, an NBA finalist.  Mr. Diaz has got some serious magic fairy dust floating about.

Am I going to read this?  Are you?

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Yesterday I started reading this memoir, and about every other page I think, * sigh* I want to write a book like this.  I was going to pick up a paperback, but it turns out that Mr. Carter had already rounded up a first edition and sealed it up in sun-proof plastic.

I’m hardheaded, so I’m reading this prized copy anyway, but I swear I’m doing my very best not to smudge it with chocolate finger prints or break the spine (notorious spine-breaker that I am).  I’ll be really careful.  I won’t even read it in the bathtub anymore or leave it on the couch where the puppy tried to eat it.

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I’ve been waiting for this short story collection to show up in my mailbox, and it’s finally arrived.  I met Charles McLeod at San Jose State back when he was a Steinbeck Fellow.  He’s brilliant and talented and hard-working, that Charles, and he writes about modern America like nobody else.  Check out this opening line from “Eden’s”:  Crumpler had a tire iron and wasn’t calming down.  The two of us were in the worst part of Fort Worth, searching for a rib place that sold Oxycontin out of its kitchen.

Who could stop reading with an opening like that?

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19 thoughts on “Ten – Eleven – Twelve

  1. Averil Dean

    I’m on a JCO tear. I’d only read a couple of her stories until a few months ago when I decided to wade in a little deeper—and now I’ve got a book of hers in every corner, in various stages of first, second or third read-through. I am seriously, mind-blowingly impressed and can’t believe how long it’s taken me to discover how brilliant she is.

    I think I’ll write her a letter.

    1. Teri Post author

      That’s funny, because I was reading this Nick Flynn gem last night and thinking, “I’m going to write him a letter.” I was writing it in my head as I went to sleep.

      I fell on William Styron that way, Averil. All in.

  2. lisahgolden

    Okay, so you know how I’m a slooooow reader, a chronic renewer of library books? Well, I read This is how you lose her in two days flat. TWO DAYS. Sure it’s a short book, but that is only part of the reason I zipped through it.

    I love it. It’s true part of my love is something very personal, but I gobbled up his writing style. I am in love.

    1. Teri Post author

      I’m reluctant on Diaz, Lisa, so I thank you for this shove.

      And 10 minutes ago I spilled wine within inches of the Flynn book. I cannot be trusted.

      P.S. Okay. So there were a few wine droplets on the Flynn book. White wine. Good thing there’s a plastic cover. Ahem.

  3. JustAnotherEmpress

    I have trouble attending to the page these days. For the usual reasons. But Diaz kept me on task and turning the pages. There’s definitely some secret sauce there. Plus, I’m in the midst of a teaching gig, so felt I needed to deconstruct his formula a bit for a lecture on authority. It’s a good read, Teri. The energy in it was an Rx to my perimenopausal (or possibly menopausal!!) molasses factor of late.

    1. lisahgolden

      What Suzy said. Now I want to know how Suzy deconstructed the formula because I want desperately to use that same kind of formula for a piece I want to write.

      1. JustAnotherEmpress

        I think it’s all about lyricism. The varying sizes of sentences. The sound when you read it aloud. The techniques he uses to hide the “I” — it’s brilliant.

  4. Lyra

    I’m reading The Rules of Civility and LOVING it.
    But man, does it give me pause to read a story about the same time frame I’m writing in and say, “Ah, so that’s what it could look like.” Sigh. We just have to shut out those voices, but sometimes it is such a struggle.
    Do we ever not want to write like someone else?

  5. girl in the hat

    I’m way behind you all. I’m reading a decade back, if I’m lucky. Everyone said to read The Glass Castle and I finally started and I don’t know. It’s okay so far but I’m not sold and it’s been a long time since I read something I really, really got off on and I don’t have a lot of time for reading so I”m sort of pissed off because what should I do– continue on or find something that does it for me. Arrrg. I think I might abort and try the Goon Squad. If that doesn’t work, I don’t know.

  6. Catherine

    I am reading ‘Piano Lessons’ by Anna Goldsworthy which is a memoir written by an Australian pianist and has nothing to do with the above, but I think it is brilliant. I heard a great podcast on the Guardian with Junot Diaz and loved reading ‘Drown’, it was like a shot in the back. I also love Justin Torres on some of those themes.

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