I need the perfect book, yet it escapes me.
I’m currently reading Nabokov’s Pnin and The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake by Breece D’J Pancake. I bailed on Didion’s The White Album and Alexsandar Hemon’s Love & Obstacles. I don’t have the attention span at present.
Books I’ve loved recently:
- The Green Girl by Kate Zambreno
- Incendiary by Chris Cleave
- a visit from the goon squad by Jennifer Egan
- Living Arrangements by Laura Maylene Walter
- The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obrect
- The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
- The Empty Family by Colm Toibin
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I’m now in a heavy editing phase and I’m having trouble with my reading material. I’ve always been of the school to read above what you write. So Nabokov sets the bar and perhaps by osmosis my writing will improve. What I’m finding is that instead of him improving my writing, he is destroying my ability to believe in my writing at all. He’s just too good.
I just looked at my shelves and nothing, as hard as that is for me to say, nothing is catching my interest. So many spines uncracked, and I just want a well-written story, but not a story whose lyricism holds an impossible reach.
Short list of the books unread that are on my shelves:
- Howard Jacobson’s The Finkler Question
- Robert Bolano’s 2666
- Ha Jin’s A Free Life
- Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin
- Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book
- Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
I’m certain all of these are fine books, but not one screams out to me. Normally all books scream out and are competing for my attention. Right now? Nada.
So, my friends, what I’m looking for are suggestions for a good book with a great story. I’m looking for something that isn’t brilliant lyricism (no Rushdie, no Nabokov) so I don’t feel like a moron when I sit down late at night. I’m looking for something that keeps your attention, but is more character than plot-driven. I’m looking for something that screams beauty, and is complicated enough to make me strive harder without destroying my confidence. Essentially, I’m searching for your favorite comfort books.
What are those books that you return to time and again because they mean something to you, even if you don’t know exactly what it is? Any and all suggestions welcome.
Talk a writer off a cliff, won’t you?