February 06, 2005
What I've been reading
I'm horrible about keeping tracks of what books I've read, but here's a braindump of the last month or so:
Posted by Bill Stilwell at February 06, 2005 12:59 PM
- Exuberance: the Passion for Life, by Kay Redfield Jamison
Jamison made her name with research and books on mood disorders, particularly manic depression and how it intersects with the creative impulse (see Touched by fire). This book focuses on one positive emotion, using it as a touchpoint to explore many stories of the exuberant in the sciences and arts as well as bemoaning the current lack of research into the area of positive human emotion. Some of it is a rehash of her previous work on manic-depression, but overall I found a lot to take away from it, including about half a dozen more books to read.
- Sheepshagger, by Niall Griffiths
The easy way to describe Griffiths is Cormac McCarthy with some Irvine Welsh thrown in, which is to say: lyrically violent, faithful rendering of Welsh dialect, unapologetic depiction of drug use, etc. This is a ferocious book, focusing as it does on Ianto, a mostly-feral rural Welsh ("sheepshagger") character who is driven into madness and murder by the loss of his familial home (hovel, really). The writing is what keeps this being entirely off-putting and horrific, Griffiths has an amazing ability to draw you into events; I found a chapter that portrayed a rave and its violent aftermath particularly engrossing.
- Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami
I don't know that I can add anything to the endless list of reviews of Murakami's latest (see metacritic or complete review if you need them); I'll just say that as a Murakami fan I wasn't disappointed, even if it didn't reach the heights of my two favorite Murakami novels, Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World or The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, both of which I'd recommend to the first-time Murakami reader.
- Underground: the Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche, by Haruki Murakami
Inteviews with Tokyo gas attack victims as well as some current and ex-members of Aum, the cult that perpetrated the attacks. Fascinating for the divergent perspectives on being a victim of such a random event.
- Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth, by Chris Ware
A painfully well-realized graphic novel on loneliness and sadness. Ware's drawing style is amazingly clever and inventive.
- Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood, by Marjane Satrapi
Autobiographical graphic novel about being a child during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Honest and compelling.
- Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
Six distinct-but-tenuously-connected narratives, each with their own time, place and narrative voice. I enjoyed the separate narratives (mostly - the middle section started to feel as interminable as the opening section of Alan Moore's Voice of the Fire), but I'm not sure I got the overall point(s) they were meant to cohere into. It probably didn't help that my hopes were pretty high for this book based on the ecstatic nature of some of the reviews; it was clever and well-written, but not earth-shatteringly good.
I'm really looking forward to reading Persepolis 2, I hope it's of similar quality.