[In which our heroine is forced to admit that maybe it is impossible for a book to please her]
#16. As She Climbed Across the Table, by Jonathan Lethem.
Having been thoroughly enthralled by Lethem’s Gun, with Occasional Music, I could barely wait to get my hands on this book. And Lethem’s subject matter provided further enticement, at least for me. Professors! Physics! Research laboratories!
It’s a witty little story, and novel in its use of physics as a metaphor for the building and unravelling of human relationships, but the lack of substantial character development coupled with Lethem’s seeming consciousness of his own cuteness is wearing. For a subtler and (I think) more masterful handling of the metaphor, I recommend Copenhagen.
#17. Eleanor Rigby, by Douglas Coupland.
Coupland identifies loneliness as the epidemic of our times, and as the defining trait of Liz Dunn, the protagonist of Eleanor Rigby. Why does he tell us about her loneliness, instead of showing us? I remember how clearly and hauntingly Palahniuk conveyed a sense of the narrator’s isolation in Fight Club, and I cringe for Coupland. This work reads like a second draft.
#18. My New Filing Technique Is Unstoppable, by David Rees.
I am making a conscious effort to read more graphic novels — an effort that has so far been largely unrewarding. I hear people saying how brilliant and biting and relevant this book is, and I wish I could see what they mean.
#18. Gaudy Night, by Dorothy L. Sayers.
After all this hipster text, I allowed myself to luxuriate in an old favorite. With typical wit and charm, Sayers lovingly skewers the academic cloisters of Oxford. Her descriptions of the female dones, at a time when female dons were still controversial, is wry but respectful, and touches the heart of a dusty old academic (and future female don) like me. I cannot do justice to this book, except to tell you that the edges of my copy have grown as fuzzy as felt from repeated handling.
#19. In The Cut, by Susanna Moore.
I can’t do better than to quote Bookslut’s Gena Anderson:
I would recommend In the Cut for an intensely quick read — it is a short but powerful book on language and violence, how they are related and how someone could struggle to define violence but never be able to convey it’s [sic] reality.
#20. The Adrian Mole Diaries, by Sue Townsend.
On a friend’s recommendation, I plowed my way through this charmless fictional journal. J., please don’t stop recommending books, but, well, not books like this.