07 June 2008

Recently Read Books

Tama Janowitz's Slaves of New York and A Certain Age

Slaves of New York was written in the early 80s, when I was still learning to talk and being a little kid. BUT it still captured my interest, because although the popular culture references were a little obscure to me, I still "got" the book. She also seemed to be writing about the same city I'm experiencing now, although in a much different spectrum (single and making it on your own in the art world, while I'm married with a cushy life steeped in academia). The title refers to women who get into relationships with men in New York and lose their choice to leave, on almost purely economic reasons. Because to leave would mean leaving New York, which the author seems to purport would never be a realistic choice. The book is a series of short stories, and I didn't pay enough attention/catch on until mid-way through that the characters were all related, and sometimes the same main character (whose name I don't think was divulged) was the narrator of several of the stories. I read it pretty quickly, but it was the book I started as a single girl and finished as a married woman.

Same author, different set up, published in 1999, the year I graduated high school. It's a novel, and it's basically a trashy, unsuccessful attempt to rewrite The House of Mirth for the end of the 20th Century - and even goes so far as to name check Edith Wharton twice! The entire time I was reading I kept saying to Shawn "this is the worst book I've ever read." But still I plowed on, reading every other word or something until I could close it and move on. I don't recommend it to anyone, and am stupid for having carted it to Oklahoma and back, thinking that I'd read it while there. Glad I didn't. You shouldn't either.

Rapture by Susan Minot

This is a pretty sexy book - basically a novel about two people in bed, engaged in an amorous act, and it flips perspectives to re-live their romance (or lack-thereof) throughout the encounter. It is well written, entertaining and short. A slim book that I read in just an afternoon at a coffee shop. I will definitely look into more of her books.

A couple quotes I wrote down:

"Unless you were high up in a building or happened to glimpse it at the end of one of the big avenues going east-west, all you knew of the sunset was a darketning in the air. No wonder people in New York were so unbalanced. They were totally untouched by the rhythms of nature. You were only aware of nature when something extreme happened, like a snowstorm or heatwave."

and

"...boy poison--a boy's kisses were like a poison, which infected you and after you were exposed you craved more, like an addict."

So I have been reading. A little voraciously. My cousin is moving and let me rifle her bookshelves (these three books are library check outs). I am happy.

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