Was there a theme for my reading this week? Possibly. I’ve just finished Eugene Lim’s Fog & Car, which examines the now-separate lives of a newly divorced couple over the course of a few years, as each settles into a new routine. Except that the novel is much stranger that that description makes it sound: initially, the parallel narratives are told in sharply contrasting styles (terse, occasionally fractured lines for Mr. Fog; a more evenhanded prose for Ms. Car’s life in New York City) until the novel’s plot begins to mirror those disruptions and fractures. While vastly different in tone, Tove Jansson’s The True Deceiver also poses questions of identity and posits shifts in the same, amidst a wind-swept winter landscape in northern Europe. Both will be hard to shake, I suspect.
For an upcoming review, I read Forecast, Shya Scanlon’s novel of surveillance and unexpected sources of energy. For the latter point, it’d make an interesting pairing with Charles Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. In terms of other books read this week, I suspect I’ll have more to say about Benjamin Percy’s The Wilding here soon; right now, I’m still hashing out my thoughts on it. For now, I’ll just say that Percy’s descriptions of his characters in relation to nature, and his ability to organically ratchet up the tension, are quite impressive.
Other highlights of the week: a trip to Terminal 5 to see LCD Soundsystem, which was one of the best concerts I’ve seen in ages. That it took place at a venue of which I’m less than fond was, I daresay, the proverbial icing — albeit a bittersweet one.
Lewis Lapham wrote this piece about Mark Twain in the recent issue of Harper’s. I read it, enjoyed it and jotted down some smart notes about it. Sadly, I’ve forgotten those notes at home. I have realized this: in terms of American “heroes,” Twain is one of the only ones I care about hearing peoples thoughts on.
Also started reading Ulysses for the first time since around 1996. I hated the book then (I was sixteen!) but I know for a fact that it was an example of “youthful folly” or some shit like that. Also have a six hour train ride ahead of me this weekend. Going to start on Nog by Rudy Wurlitzer.