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July Reads

July is a month of weekend getaways. Wine country, dog shows, Los Angeles, Laguna Beach. My reading has not been compromised although I have blogged less. I just started a very serious and dense book—Forbidden Colours by Yukio Mishima and I won’t be able to finish it by tomorrow.

Number of books: 9
Total pages read: 2816
Average pages per day: 91
Number of books read this year:  67

The Body of Jonah Boyd David LeavittSo far this is the book I enjoyed the least by him. This novel is really about some out-of-touch writer and all his eccentricities—and he is not a likable character to me. He is just too annoyingly weird. I’m not sure if the way Leavitt ties up the bundle at the end is ingenious as claimed by others. I just think the connection between Jonah Boyd and Ben who liked to write as a teenager is too obvious. Compared to his other works, this book is Leavitt’s lesser effort.Both plot and characters are thin.

The House of Tomorrow Peter Bognanni
This debut is a charmer. A protected teenager who grows up in an isolated geodesic dome befriends a punky peer who just had a heart transplant. Their flaws actually render them vulnerable but beautiful. The story is well-written, filled with flawless dialogue. Whether they’re realizing outrageous goals or just surviving another day, the book is a celebration of hope and the importance of love and family. Definitely the highlight of the month.

Beach Music Pat Conroy
My first Conroy book doesn’t disappoint, although it could be shorter. Why would a woman take her life jumping off the bridge? The answer is not readily delivered until you have read the tome that depicts generations worth of family history. It touches on the unutterable horrors of the Holocaust and the lingering trauma of Vietnam War as well as the antiwar campaign back home.

Indignation Philip Roth
This book is the story of a young man’s education in life’s terrifying chances and bizarre obstructions against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. It is a vignette that captures the impact of American history on the life of the vulnerable individual. As for the naive 19-year-old, it’s the terrible, the incomprehensible way one’s most banal and incidental choices that achieve the most ironically disproportionate result.

The Moviegoer Walker Percy
My first Percy novel is not one that I normally would have enjoyed. The writing is simple but the meaning is subliminal and intriguing. Contemplation of existential meaning. The 1961 debut is character-driven, with fierce regard to a soul that is, sadly, not capable of caring for anyone. Even in the company of people he is in physical and psychological dislocation. The narrative is lush but could be draining, making you wonder if the protagonist is in his right mind.

The Man of the House Stephen McCauley
I always gravitate to McCauley’s writing because he is a keen observer of relationships and their dynamics. I can always relate to his gay protagonist(s) who is less than perfect, is either wallowed in romantic woes or slightly jaded by the lack of fidelity in the gay dating world. The snippy and self-deprecating Clyde would keep himself in check and he knows his life has fallen short. McCauley’s depiction of Clyde’s intertwining relationships demonstrates his grasp of the bonds that connect the straight and the gay in the maze of life’s daily dealings. That said, the narrator’s sluggishness in the face of these concerns can make readers impatient. McCauley should have tightened up the rope.

The Object of My Affection Stephen McCauley
Richly nuanced with quirky humor and sarcasm, this wildly popular book from the 80s explores the meaning of relationship and interpersonal dynamics of a society that seems oppressive to both homosexual and heterosexual. This book leaves me in contemplation of what the best approach to relationship might be. They neither find meaning nor a safe harbor, but happiness in a friendship that is a long and unconsummated courtship between two people with no expectations. What seems ideal must remain at a safe distance because all expectations are (probably) doomed to failure. The book really captures the confusion of our lives today: how to to strike a balance between self-interest and commitment, to reconcile principles with emotions. A solid read from this month.

The Dud Avocado Elaine Dundy
It is very funny. The pages only turn faster after a stagnant start, as the savvy-but-not-savvy-enough heroine embarks on (mis)adventures that would be precious to her growth although unbearably miserable at the moment. The many characters that intertwine with her in Paris speak in distinct voices and breathe a lively pulse to the book. You can live vicariously through her words. The moral lesson doesn’t rub off your nose but rather seeps through the course of her adventures. I LOVE this book!

Breakfast at Tiffany’s Truman Capote
Holly Golightly will forever live in my mind. She is both innocent and vain, forbidding herself to believe that she’s a prostitute. Tiffany is her ideal home, a utopia, that cures her of “mean reds”, a state of anxiety that is worse than just fear. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a wonderful comedy of manners set in its time. This unique, eccentric character keeps me riveted. Her elusiveness is disheartening but her quirks and unconventional lifestyle endear me.

8 Responses

  1. Love Stephen McCauley! His stuff is always spot on. I just finished Kergan Edwards-Stout’s Songs for the New Depression, which is kind of like McCauley, mixed with the bite of a David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs. Really powerful and funny. But seeing Breakfast at Tiffany’s on here reminds me I’ve never actually read it! Gotta go get that one!

    • I have yet to read Augusten Burroughs and would include him on the list for this year. McCauley is a keen observer of relationship dynamics and he brings out the funniest and worst of human vices.

  2. I’m having the same problem: my rate of reading has increased dramatically since school let out, but my rate of blogging…well..hasn’t been so impressive. I like to think it’s because the books I read during vacation are more engrossing, but the cause probably is an increase in my amount of laziness.

  3. interesting titles. July was actually my best month. Here is my wrap up, with 14 books: http://wordsandpeace.com/2012/08/01/july-wrap-up/

    • Aren’t you the prolific reader! I saw that you are participating numerous reading challenges. I have slowed down with challenges, trying to focus on books that I really want to read.

      • well, mostly thanks to the power outage! 4 books finished in 60 hours. I also plan on slowing down on reading challenges next year, will keep some good ones though, such as What’s in a title. But upset at bloggers who start hosting challenges and then give up in the middle of the year… I plan to organize several read-alongs next year, of books I really want to read.

  4. I loved Breakfast at Tiffanys–have read it twice now. I tried The Dud Avocado and didn’t get on with it, but I think didn’t give it enough of a chance, since you mention it is a slow starter. I did read The Old Man and Me by her, which I liked, but is apparently somewhat darker (or a more jaded character anyway).

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