Saturday, April 26, 2014

Spring Readathon

Today is Dewey's Readathon and quite frankly, it couldn't come at a better time.

I spent Thursday night in the ER again.  (Anaphylactic shock brought on by food allergies.  I'm fine now.  Thank you for asking).

Ai-yi-yi.  That's all I can say, so I'll say it again: ai-yi-yi.  This semester has been one for the ages.

That said, I'm looking forward to a day of peaceful reading.  Right now, I'm planning on working on two books: Junot Diaz's collection of short stories, This Is How You Lose Her (2013) and Chang-Rae Lee's novel Native Speaker (1995).

So, 'nuff said.  See you later.

3:20 p.m.

I'm about halfway through Native Speaker--it's actually pretty interesting.  It's about a Korean American named Henry Park who works as a kind of spy, befriending executives and political figures--as he explains,
"I wasn't to be found anywhere near corporate or industrial sites... Rather, my work was entirely personal.  I was always assigned to an individual, someone I didn't know or care the first stitch for on a given day but who in a matter of weeks could be as bound up with me as a brother or sister or wife." (6)
When the novel opens, his wife has left him--we later learn that his mother died when he was a child, his father has recently died, and he has suffered the loss of his son.

The novel revolves around the question of who he is, really, and what other people mean to him.  It focuses a lot on how he speaks--and what he hears when others speak.  The novel's opening sentence is immediately intriguing: "The day my wife left she gave me a list of who I was."

So I'm enjoying my reading.  But I'm getting a bit drowsy, so I'm going to take a break and then maybe switch to Diaz's short stories for a while, then return to Lee's novel.  More later... I hope!

9:15 p.m.

I've switched to Junot Diaz's This Is How You Lose Her, and I'm happy to report that I'm enjoying that as well!  I really liked Diaz's first collection of short stories, Drown, and This Is How You Lose Her deals with many of the same characters from Drown.

Diaz probably isn't for everyone: his stories are... gritty.  But interesting.  And if you don't mind grit, they're very readable.  I usually don't like reading stories told from the perspective of a misogynistic narrator (obviously), but Diaz's stories work--in part, because they're short, so I don't feel like I'm trapped with someone for all that long, if I don't like their voice or perspective.

But more importantly, I think Diaz has to represent misogynistic characters if he's going to remain true to what he's trying to represent.  And in an odd way, the problems that his male characters have with women make them more interesting and give them greater depth--something that I don't think is usually the case.

I don't know how late I'll stay up, but I probably won't post again tonight.  I'll just keep reading until I fall asleep, and then finish up tomorrow.  It's been a really nice day of resting and relaxing and reading, reading, reading.

Which is always a good thing.

The next day...

Well, I fell asleep (of course), but I did finish This Is How You Lose Her.  And I actually liked the very last story in the collection--"The Cheater's Guide to Love"--best of all.  It was a perfect example of what I described above: Diaz using his own particular combination of poignancy and humor to reflect on the misogyny of his protagonist, Yunior.

At the end of the story, Yunior takes out a folder he has kept hidden under his bed for years: "Copies of all the emails and fotos from the cheating days, the ones the ex found and compiled and mailed to you a month after she ended it.  Dear Yunior, for your next book" (216).
You read the whole thing cover to cover (yes, she put covers on it).  You are surprised at what a fucking chickenshit coward you are.  It kills you to admit it but it's true.  You are astounded by the depths of your mendacity.  When you finish the Book a second time you say the truth: You did the right thing, negra.  You did the right thing. (216)

8 comments:

  1. Oh no! I'm so sorry you were in the ER and hope a day full of great books is helpful. Enjoy your #readathon. #teamwordsworth!

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  2. Oh no! I'm glad you're ok and that you're able to join us today! I hope it's going well! #TeamBronte

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  3. Goodness, I hope you are feeling better and that a day of reading is just what you need. :) #TeamWordsworth!

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  4. Breaks are always a good thing. I hope that you are having lots of fun while reading some really good books! KEEP IT UP!!!!

    Happy Reading!

    *Team Wordsworth

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  5. Have fun on your break, and I hope there's more later!

    #TeamWordsworth

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  6. I'm sorry about your food allergies. Hope you are feeling better today! A day of reading is a day of rest, so I hope you are enjoying the readathon so far.

    Have fun reading and keep up the good work! #TeamWordsworth

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  7. All the lounging and reading is the best part about read-a-thon. Just a lazy day reading, it's heaven. Hope you get lots more pages in before sleep. #teamwordsworth

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  8. Glad you're feeling better! Happy Reading!

    #TeamWordsworth

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."