FROM BEST TO WORST:
Slow Days, Fast Company
Sex and Rage
I Used to Be Charming: The Rest of Eve Babitz, by Eve Babitz
Hollywood’s Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A., by Lili Anolik
I’m grouping these for convenience, but note that the biography is unworthy of such elite company, being barely adequate. As to Eve’s work, I have feminist issues, and I’m disappointed with her eventual swerve to the political right, but I get it, in fact I’ve writtenit. These works are about the sheer joy of Hollywood, and youth, and art and sex. The diminishes with each successive volume, And eventually you notice the writer skimming over the depths of love, but that’s why these books are generally a straightforward pleasure to read. You’d think they were an equally pleasurable job to write, so they pass that acid test with unabashed, extraordinary ease. I needed Eve this year, and I’m grateful for her.
Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts, by Jill Abramson
Just – terrifying. Huge, practically endless in fact, but nonetheless required reading. Not merely about the subversion of the news business, but also the blatant who cares of it, the grubbing after clicks, the poisonous self-referential greed, the way that no one even pretends to care. It’s not that ethics are pushed aside, it’s that they don’t exist.
Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, by Neal Stephenson
Another gigantic volume but WOW! Sometimes Stephenson irritates the hell out of me, coming up with a perfectly brilliant concept and deserting it halfway. Not this time. This time it carries through and it’s terrific, a living exploration of myth and eternity, tech and neuroscience. Add in a valiant quest with notable swordplay and a worthy heroine, and of course a huge talking crow. Trust me, you’ll love it.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James
Fresh and bloody and once again way too long, but utterly enthralling. Mythology again, of a magical, creature-mad version of Africa fraught wit betrayal and tragedy and love and rage, and always oh so beautiful. Part of a trilogy, I understand, and if so I can’t wait for the next installment.
The Night Tiger, by Yangsze Choo
So lovely and fated; I loved its varied, questioning cast, and I loved all that it left gloriously unexplained.
Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
A wonderful book about the evolving generations of everyone’s immigrant family.
In Our Mad and Furious City, by Guy Gunaratne
Really nice, gritty and desperate and alive. I was fully there.
The Wych Elm, by Tana French
First I was disappointed and rather contemptuous, but it’s kind of grown on me. I don’t love it but it makes its point.
The Heavens, by Sandra Newman
This was perfectly okay, just not as much fun as I expected.
Hollywood, by Charles Bukowski:
I still can’t get a proper handle on Bukowski. I was there for the ride, is all. I find the realism deceptive. I was there for the 70s Hollywood stuff, just a passenger enjoying the trip, but not sure what to make of it all.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
Yeah, endearing and all.
Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
Oh God this was terrible, and signaled so far ahead, and ultimately made no sense whatsoever: why conceal a crime but save the evidence for the family to find! And how come Miss Nature Marsh Girl didn’t realize about the footprints?
Trust Exercise, by Susan Choi
An intellectual exercise without much point beyond the obvious. One of those books people rave about that I just don’t get.
Evvie Drake Starts Over, by Linda Holmes
Don’t even. Like a Hallmark movie pretending to be better, but it’s not.
Also these three:
A Better Man, by Louise Penny
The Girl Who Lived Twice, by David Lagercrantz
Twisted Twenty-Six, by Janet Evanovich
I have to stop knee-jerk reading these series – especially Lagercrantz, those are a travesty. Evanovich is on auto-pilot and the thrill is long gone. Granted, Penny is still doing fine. Still.
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt
I didn’t buy into the theory; it seemed a little convenient, even slick. Okay. Forgettable.
Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties, by Robert Stone
Part of my retro reading. A perfectly adequate and reasonable read about moral and cultural earthquakes. I realize it’s supposed to be a classic, but blah.
Photo credits: thierry ehrmann, le four alchimique…Nutrisco Et Extinguo (CC BY 2.0) / Sparsh Ahuja, Genius (CC BY 2.0) / Revise_D, Novel (CC BY-SA 2.0)
And yes, Worthy of This Great City remains on sale until the end of the month.