I’ve had too many books that I adored while reading them which now carry with them nothing better than that awful, says-nothing, lazy accolade: I enjoyed these books, sure I did! They were good books.
Good books, huh? Well, gee…
I don’t doubt there were a great many good books. But why they were any good escapes me now. You’d think it would be easy to remember the good ones.
I read through a few of my older reviews on here last week and everything about these books I reviewed came rushing back. The things I thought I’d forgotten were coaxed out of hiding by something I’d written. The characters came back to me, robust and full in their personalities (or weak and 2-D, but this time not for any failure of memory).
I wrote here in January that reviews on the Masthead might be something other than reviews, and that’s still the case. It always will be the case. I write for a chance to hold onto these books over the years and to give each of them a better review than their being a good book. Even the worst books deserve better than that.
I’ve doubted a few things I’ve written, mostly those instances when what I had written went against the grain of popular opinion (or the Pulitzer folks).
I’ve doubted what I’ve read, too. I neither request nor receive books for review, and everything I review is determined by my reading mood. I’ve questioned whether I needed to read certain books that floated down the blogging chain on bloated torrents of hype. I’m happy I never did.
One book leads to the next. I do think about what the next three or four might be – but likely I’ll read only one or two of these within a month of my planning to read them. So with this caveat, here’s what September and October might look like once I finish my two current reads (Stephen King’s It and Victor LaValle’s The Changeling):
♠ Virgina Woolf, To the Lighthouse
This is my grandma’s copy (1937 Modern Library), which I brought back with me after seeing her last week. I’ve never read Woolf before, and I now have copies of this one and of Mrs. Dalloway. I admire the work of authors who are able to do something interesting with their prose as well as their stories. I want a psychological novel that doesn’t hurt in the Russian way.
♠ Roberto Bolaño, 2666
The pretty kind of ugly: 2666 looks just a little eerie, set against the mystery of disappearing women in the border town of St. Teresa. Its jacket blurb promises stories inside of stories; philosophy, German literature and aching souls; and a great span of time to let it take root and grow like weeds.
♠ Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
I want a moody thriller. ‘Nuff said.