Sunday, June 24, 2007

Mid-year Recap Continued...

My last post became so overly long that I decided to separate it into two.

Lastly, here are the four authors that I've been introduced to this year that I think particularly deserves mention:
Alice Munro, Steven Millhauser, and Ray Vukcevich, and Marisha Pessl.

I discovered Alice Munro on the train, so I will forever associate her with flitting light and the pattern of leaves dancing across the page. I love her for her darkness, ambiguity, and lilting language, but also for her ability to capture female characters with such clarity.

I was so captivated by "The Game of Clue", and the rest of The Barnum Museum, that I quickly hunted down every one of Steven Millhauser's short story/novella collections. Millhauser focuses on the study of miniatures, details, Critics find individual stories strong, but not enough variations in the themes of his collections. I don't have a problem with this, since I find almost all of the stories in his collections written so exquisitely.

I loved Special Topics In Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl.

The book is narrated by the precocious Blue Van Meer documenting the seminal events in her life that lead up to the mysterious death of her beautiful and much worshiped teacher Hannah Schneider. Blue Van Meer narrates the way that the Gilmore Girls would talk on speed, with numerous references to books, quotations, science, philosophy, movies, and music. Click here, here, and here for reviews.

It took extraordinary amounts of will to put down the book. I read it while stirring the pot, playing with the cat, and watching tv. I decided to take a bath instead of a shower, just so I could keep on reading the book. I would let out squeals of joy that scared my boyfriend and my cat, because the book was just that good. And I would stop every hundred pages or so, scared that I was going too fast, that it would end too soon. 40 pages before the end, I even thought about starting over from the beginning just so I could delay the inevitable end.

To my surprise some literary folks did not share my enthusiasm for Special Topics in Calamity Physics, leading me to the conclusion that you either delight and revel in this book, or find it irritating to no end.

Still I think most people can agree that Ms. Marisha Pessl is a force to be reckoned with. And I can't wait till she comes out with another book.

Lastly there is Ray Vukcevich. An author published by Small Beer Press. It's hard not to mourn for an obscure author who so richly deserve to be widely read, appreciated, and discussed. Ray Vukcevich captures moments of terror, foreboding, longing, and regret in short stories that are often no more than three or four pages long. Read him. You will not regret it.

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