Wednesday’s Readings: Heartbreaking Work, The New Earth, Envy, Kavalier & Clay, and Loving Frank

Well, I’m happy to recommend almost everything I managed to finish or start reading this past week:  A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, The New Earth (chapter 6), Envy by Kathryn Harrison, The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, and Loving Frank by Nancy Horan.

First, I finished Egger’s A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.  I still agree with my comment from last week (edit! edit! edit!), but overall I am glad I read this memoir that I had heard so much about. 

But I was also glad when I (finally) finished it, too.  It was fun to read a memoir by a peer — I understood the cultural references and his “voice” really resonated.  But I also felt a little irritated w/ him for the same reasons I get irritated with myself (self-absorption, myopia, etc.).  Interested in learning more?  Check out this nice review I found on Gather — the reviewer is a bit more generous than I have been, too.

Next, I read another chapter in The New Earth (Chapter 6: Breaking Free).  Here are a few quotes that particularly spoke to me:

Every human being emanates an energy field that corresponds to his or her inner state, and most people can sense it, although they may feel someone’s else’s energy emanation only subliminally.

When you are completely trapped in the movement of thought and the accompanying emotion, stepping outside is not possible because you don’t even know that there is an outside… To you it is reality and no other reality is possible.  And as far as you are concerned, your reaction is the only possible reaction.

Not projecting the old emotion into situations means facing it directly within yourself.  It may not be pleasant, but it won’t kill you.  Your presence is more than capable of containing it.  The emotion is not who you are.

I did not partake in Oprah’s first class last night, I started to check it out but grew impatient — I will probably peruse the transcript at some point.  Honestly, I am getting so much out of the book, it’s hard to believe the class could add much — but we’ll see!

Buy Envy by Kathryn Harrison

On to the only work that fell victim to the 50 page rule (actually, I made it to page 90): Envy by Kathryn Harrison.  I can’t remember why I requested this from the library, but it was disappointing despite having no expectations. 

The premise is a couple grieving the death of their young son in different ways.  Well, the husband is a psychologist and psychoanalyzes every single thought he has — ad nauseum…  And then, to compound this annoying habit, he develops a sexual fixation with his clients — especially one particular client who spends her weekly 50 minutes reliving her own inappropriate sexual escapades in minute, excruciating detail.  (Which was surprisingly boring?!)  I think the problem was Harrison’s voice — I simply didn’t care about any of the characters.  And once I picked up my next book, I wished I hadn’t wasted 90 pages of my life reading Envy when I could’ve been reading…

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

my final recommendation — Michael Chabon’s  The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.  Wow.  Now, I will be writing about this one for at least another week or two (over 600 pages, teeny font) so I will be brief this week:  Wow.  I love the fact that the first 50 pages had me reaching for my dictionary — “omniveillant maternal loupe”? (anyone?)  and “acromegaly”? (a hormonal disorder ) — yet never seemed self-conscious or condescending.  Chabon’s voice is spot-on.  So far, I can’t recommend this one enough — it certainly earned its Pulitzer!  I know I should be creating a kit on it while I’m reading, but I’m enjoying it too much to be analytical this first time through… 

For an excellent and very thorough review of Kavalier and Clay, check out Things Mean A lot

By the way, a movie version is slated to be released in 2009…

Loving Frank: A Novel

Which leads to my kit read of the week:  Loving Frank by Nancy Horan.  I was apprehensive about this one because of my issues with the privacy of artists and authors.  It is considered “historical fiction” — an account of Frank Lloyd Wright’s ten year affair with Mamah Borthwick — and certainly reads like a novel.  I had budgeted three days to read the 357 page work and quickly polished it off in two days.  Not suprisingly, Wright is an interesting, frustrating, complex man and his paramour is as well.  The prose (and voice) isn’t memorable, but the “plot” and “characters” are so compelling, I do recommend it.

By the way, I just released four new kits this week: 

  • The Gathering by Anne Enright (winner of the 2007 Man Booker)
  • The Faith Club by Ranya Idilby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner
  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (winner of the Pulitzer and one of my personal favorites)
  • The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers

Interested?  You can buy them on the side bar (far right, top) or on the Custom Kits page.

I’ve also created my first survey — please take a minute (literally, one minute) and take it if you are a past customer, or even if you might be a future customer. 
Click Here to take survey    Thank you!

And, one last note — next week will be my first “break” since January 1 from creating custom kits for customers.  So, I will spend next week catching up on other blog-related details that have been delegated.  But then I am open to suggestions for future kits!  Any ideas?  I would love to hear them!

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9 Responses to Wednesday’s Readings: Heartbreaking Work, The New Earth, Envy, Kavalier & Clay, and Loving Frank

  1. Joe Sack says:

    I loved “Kavalier & Clay” too! It has been a few years since I read it, and I remember finding it difficult to describe to others(much like Middlesex). I need to read it again this year (before the movie comes out).

  2. Kristen says:

    Have you read his latest? I guess The Yiddish Policeman’s Union is wonderful as well!

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  4. Nymeth says:

    Hi! I’m here from Weekly Geeks. I reviewed Kavalier & Clay last year – here is the link to my post.

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