Reading Report, May 2023

Books Acquired:
Richard Brautigan, Dreaming of Babylon
Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone, This Is How You Lose the Time War

Progress Made:
Bruce Chatwin, The Songlines
Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun
Flann O’Brien, The Third Policeman
Yevgeny Zamyatin, A Soviet Heretic
Stefan Zweig, Messages from a Lost World

Books Finished:
Nick Hornby, The Polysyllabic Spree
Dennis Lehane, Mystic River
Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle

The Polysyllabic Spree was low-hanging fruit, as I read 95% of it last month. The other two books that I finished in May were both Hornby recommendations, and both were extremely readable. Walls’ memoir of her absolutely bonkers childhood was a blast from start to finish; I can recommend it without hesitation.

As for Lehane’s book… it was certainly a page-turner. I’m tempted to call it a thriller with literary pretensions, which is probably a bit more dismissive than it deserves. Lehane can really write, and is good with characters and plot; but he’s also trying to make some larger sociopolitical point that is a bit muddled. I don’t regret the time I spent with Mystic River, but nor would I push it on anyone.

This is my second attempt at the Bruce Chatwin book, which is one of those that makes me feel inadequate as a reader. Before last summer I had read about Chatwin but never read him; then The Songlines turned up in the free box at my favorite cafe. My first stab at it petered out in a haze of late-summer ennui. Chatwin is a very thoughtful writer who challenges you to focus on his level; it’s a struggle, not an unpleasant one, but one wants to feel worthy of the material.