a reader

an eudæmonistreading



Naomi Novik. Spinning Silver. New York: Del Ray, 2018. [52.d*]
I saw this recommended somewhere on the internet and put the ebook on hold; six months later it was finally available. It was enjoyable, but I think the moment when it would have suited me best had already passed.
David Malouf. Ransom. New York: Penguin, 2010. [51*]
See post.
Leonid Yusefovich. Horsemen of the Desert. trans. Marian Schwartz. New York: Archipelago, 2018 (2002). [50]
A breath of fresh air, crackling and dangerous.
Jess Kidd. Himself. New York: Atria, 2017. [49.d*]
An enjoyable swagger.


Wolfgang Hilbig. The Tidings of the Trees. trans. Isabel Fargo Cole. San Francisco: Two Lines Press, 2018 (2010). [48]
What is a proper story anyhow?
Marguerite Duras. The War: A Memoir. trans. Barbara Bray. New York: The New Press, 1986 (1985). [47]
When she is describing other people, the book is acidly enjoyable, and the rhetorical strategies for presenting emotional states are interesting; the text is often an exercise in solipsism, or at least too much so for my taste.
María Sonia Cristoff. False Calm: A Journey through the Ghost Towns of Patagonia. trans. Katherine Silver. Oakland, CA: Transit Books, 2018 (2005). [46]
See post.
Ella K. Maillart. The Cruel Way: Switzerland to Afghanistan in a Ford, 1939. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013 (1947). [45]
See post.
Fleur Jaeggy. These Possible Lives. trans. Minna Zallman Proctor. New York: New Directions, 2017 (2015). [44]
Curious. As an object, though, it would have been improved by French flaps.
Georges Perec. An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris. trans. Marc Lowenthal. Cambridge, MA: Wakefield Press, 2010 (1975). [43*]
A species of observation.
Honoré de Balzac. Treatise on Modern Stimulants. trans. Kassy Hayden. Cambridge, MA: Wakefield Press, 2018 (1839). [42]
Charming, but without the depth of the Treatise on Elegant Living – although as an example of popular science, it is perhaps more interesting: the discussion of physiology rather reminds one of the way neuroscience is drawn into any popular science book, in season or out.


Charles D’Ambrosio. Loitering: New & Collected Essays. Portland: Tin House, 2014. [41]
Personal essays, whether literary criticism, reportage, or autobiography.


Peter Dormer, ed. The Culture of Craft. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1997. [40]
An uneven collection, and curiously the essays on writing about craft were the least interesting.
Sabrina Orah Mark. Wild Milk. St. Louis, MO: Dorothy Project, 2018. [39]
Surreal and strange (uncanny) short stories.
Pierre Louÿs. The Young Girl’s Handbook of Good Manners for Use in Educational Establishments. trans. Geoffrey Longnecker. Cambridge, MA: Wakefield Press, 2010 (1926). [38]
Cristina Rivera Garza. The Taiga Syndrome. trans. Suzanne Jill Levine & Aviva Kana. St. Louis, MO: Dorothy Project, 2018 (2012). [37]
Drawing one in until one cannot escape – a cure for the inability to read.
Esther Kinsky. River. trans. Iain Galbraith. San Francisco: Transit Books, 2018 (2014, 2017). [36]
Read slowly and savored in the morning; thinking about the sense of being out of place.
Tatiana Ryckman. I Don’t Think of You (Until I Do). Portland: Future Tense, 2017. [35]
For an aphoristic book, it took a surprisingly long time to read. The experience of dredging.


Barbara Ehrenreich and Deidre English. Witches, Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers. New York: The Feminist Press, 1993 (1970). [34]
Low-burning rage.


Madame Nielsen. The Endless Summer. trans. Gaye Kynoch. Rochester, NY: Open Letter, 2018 (2014). [33]
Has odd twists and turns, but so languid.
Luis Sagasti. Fireflies. trans. Fionn Petch. Edinburgh: Charco, 2018 (2011). [32]
May Sinclair. Life and Death of Harriet Frean. London: Virago, 1986 (1922). [31]
Rather flat, rather like the subject’s life.


Emmanuelle de Villepin. The Devil’s Reward. trans. C. Jon Delogu. New York: Other Press, 2018 (2016). [30]
An odd look at families and what is and isn’t shared.
Clarice Lispector. Água Viva. trans. Stefan Tobler. New York: New Directions, 2012 (1973). [29]
Rich, varied, smooth, and fathomless.


Doris Lessing. The Fifth Child. New York: Vintage, 1989 (1988). [28]
See post.
Hugh Kenner. Joyce’s Voices. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1979. [27]
An interesting book, but troubling. See post.
Sarah Weinman, ed. Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1940s: Laura / The Horizontal Man / In a Lonely Place / The Blank Wall. New York: Library of America, 2015 (1942–1947). [26]
An uneven collection, with Laura and In a Lonely Place being the best of the lot.
Masatsugu Ono. Lion Cross Point. San Francisco, CA: 2018 (2013). [25]
Sometimes attempts at rendering dialect are really not helpful.
Dorothy M. Richardson. Journey to Paradise: Short Stories and Autobiographical Sketches. London: Virago, 1989. [24]
An divers selection of short stories in a variety of humors.
Alexander Chee. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel. New York: Mariner, 2018. [23]
A book that helped me enjoy reading again.


Anna Lee Huber. A Brush with Shadows. New York: Berkley Books, 2018. [22.d*]
Bruno Munari. Design as Art. trans. Patrick Creagh. London: Penguin, 2008 (1971). [21]


Homero Aridjis. The Child Poet. trans. Chloe Homero Aridjis. New York: Archipelago, 2016 (1984). [20]
One wanted to like it more, but it seemed a bit self-indulgent.
Anna Dean. Bellfield Hall. New York: Minotaur, 2008. [19.d*]
Chris Wickham. The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages, 400-1000. London: Penguin, 2009. [18]
Interesting and engaging, but not Peter Brown.
Anna Lee Huber. Secrets in the Mist. Phoenix, AZ: Brightstone Media, 2016 [17.d*]
Honoré de Balzac. The Physiology of the Employee. trans. André Naffis-Sahely. Cambridge, MA: Wakefield Press, 2014 (1841). [16]
Awkwardly timed, but amusing.
Anna Lee Huber. This Side of Murder. New York: Kensington, 2017. [15.d*]
Brenda Ueland. If You Want to Write. Minneapolis, MN: Graywolf, 2007 (1938, 1987). [14]*


Paul Valéry. The Outlook for Intelligence. trans. Jackson Mathews & Denise Folliot. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1989 (1962). [13]
An idiosyncratic collection of essays, in a style which I’m not sure a contemporary author would be wise to imitate.
Gary Rogowski. Handmade: Creative Focus in the Age of Distraction. Fresno, CA: Linden, 2017. [12]*
I think I have some thoughts on this, but I’m not quite sure.
Margareta Magnusson. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter. New York: Scribner, 2017. [11.d]*
A silly book, though with a certain charm. When you don’t feel like you can give your elders a copy of Mari Kondo.
Søren Kierkegaard. Fear and Trembling/The Sickness Unto Death. trans. Walter Lowrie. Garden City, NJ: Anchor, 1954 (1849). [10]
A way of getting outside of one’s mind.
Aulus Gellius. Attic Nights. 3 vols. trans. John C. Rolfe. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP (Loeb Classical Library), 1927 (2C CE). [9]
Kevin W. Tucker, ed. Gustav Stickley and the American Arts Crafts Movement. New Haven: Yale UP, 2010. [8]*
A competent overview.


Nell Zink. The Wallcreeper. St. Louis, MO: Dorothy Project, 2014. [7]
A headlong rush of a book, better than the excessive praise it received would lead one to believe. Bristling with unexpected energy – but then I read it in a rage and perhaps that made it more sympathetic.
Joanna Ruocco. Dan. St. Louis, MO: Dorothy Project, 2014. [6]
Unsettling, unsettled.
Amina Cain. Creature. St. Louis, MO: Dorothy Project, 2013. [5]
Uncertain narrators.
Steven Heighton. Workbook. Toronto: ECW, 2011. [4.d]*
Notes on writing and reading and thinking. Aphoristic.
Susan Howe. My Emily Dickinson. New York: New Directions, 2007 (1985). [3]
See post.
Marlee Grace. A Sacred Shift: A Book about Personal Practice. Self-Published, 2017. [2]
Documentation more than reflection.
May Sarton. Journal of a Solitude. New York: Norton, 1977 (1973). [1.1]
I remember reading this when I was in high school, and somehow managed to miss the emotional maelstrom Sarton experiences; this time, however, the tension was so palpable that it was difficult at times to read about – only the intermittent calms of creativity carry the reader through the storm.

(last revised: 10 December 2018)

ego hoc feci mm–MMXVIII · cc 2000–2018 M.F.C.