Sunday, January 18, 2009

books i have recently read

Cathedral - Raymond Carver

this was the first thing i read by raymond carver. i really liked it because i felt like raymond carver was writing from a place that knew humans their weaknesses. most of the characters are weak people who deal with their weaknesses in weak and human ways. the amount of failure in all the stories makes me think about how much failure raymond carver experienced. a lot of the characters are alcoholics and i feel since raymond carver was also an alcoholic he knows what he is talking about. the first story, 'feathers', started out pretty slow and got kind of boring. but slowly the boring- and mundaneness of the narrative played into the narrative itself. another story that i liked was one called 'vitamins'. i think i liked it most because of how somehow was completely degraded in a bar while trying to have sex with his wife's friend. i read this book maybe three weeks ago so it's not so fresh. i also enjoyed 'a small good thing' which is about a family that orders a cake for their 8-year old's birthday. the boy gets hit by a car and spends his birthday in the hospital where he suddenly dies from a brain aneurism or something. meanwhile they keep receiving creepy phone calls about the little boy, like some creepo talking quietly into the phone. the book went by very quickly and at the end of every story i always put down the book and thought about everything i had just read. i felt like i had been looking at a painting. i think i admire his economy most. the way he says so much with very little. the text appears innocent and unself-aware, very organic and smart.

My Name Is Aram - William Saroyan

i have been a long-time fan of william saroyan and i feel like his voice is one of the strongest things i have ever paid attention to in my entire life. he is a lion of life, he roars around the countryside, immense and covered in fur. i feel wild and free when i read him. at the same, this book can also be considered to be about human weakness. however, saroyan spends more time celebrating it (along with pride, sorrow, eagerness, and innocence) whereas carver maybe exploits it, or uses it to make a story. 'my name is aram' is a book of fictional stories saroyan wrote about his childhood growing up in fresno. most of them have to do with growing up in an armenian-american family. normally things like this do not sound interesting to me but this book is beautiful and i feel less stupid and alone when i read it. the very first page is really very magical. it opens up with his cousin waking him up at night sitting on a giant white horse outside his window. all the stories are magical and surreal but you really only notice it after you finish the story. also, saroyan has this great command for small words that he blow up like tiny atom bombs when you read them. here are a few lines from the story "The Poor And Burning Arab":

If you please, my uncle Khosrove said. He is your son. You are my little sister. Please send him away. I love him with all my heart. He is an American. He was born here. He wil be a great man some day. I have no doubt about it. Please send him away [...]

I was standing too, and if my uncle Khosrove was angry at me, I was angrier at him.
Where is the Arab? I said.
My uncle Khosrove pointed me out to my mother--with despair. There you are, his gesture said. Your son. My nephew. My own flesh and blood. You see? We are all poor and burning orphans. All except him. [...]

How Hungry We Are - Dave Eggers

i really, really don't get it. jesus christ, i mean i i really don't like dave eggers. i feel the same way about radiohead: i don't understand why all the fuss. i mean, he's good. his stores are not terrible, they are interesting and creative and playful. he has a wonderful imagination and i would probably like him as a person. i really like his work in tutor centers and i think he is probably a good guy. but his writing just doesn't do much for me. in fact, it does very little. although not enough to ignore. or maybe i'm more confused about why so many people like him. the same goes for mcsweeny's.i always felt like someone was making me eat my vegetables. all the stories were like reading a bad joke but the bad joke is actually a novel.

fortunately, i am not alone.


Blogger Joel Cachero said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 19, 2009 at 6:03 AM  
Blogger Joel Cachero said...

I enjoyed 'Old Country Advice for the American Traveler.' I posted it on your myspace because I thought you would enjoy it. Little did I know that you had already read it.

January 19, 2009 at 6:07 AM  

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