Freestyle Friday, 02.20.2015

In the last few weeks I’ve been picking up a lot of short stories (and still staying true to the TBR Double Dog Dare). I have a subscription to One Story, and the issues (which consist, as the title suggests, of one story) have been piling up, so I finally decided to read them all. I think that sort of counts as something from the TBR, yes? I also finally got around to reading Lorrie Moore’s latest collection, Bark. More on that one another time. Right now I’m between books, but I think my next read will either be Skippy Dies or HHhH. I started both of these books last year, and through no fault of theirs set them both aside.

About this time every year I grow tired of all my clothes, but I especially grow tired of my shoes. Why is it so difficult to find cute winter shoes that one can wear with socks? I am not a tall boots person, and I have some black booties and they’re fine, but other than that I typically resort to wearing these old-school New Balance sneakers. I love them but sometimes I want more options than gray sneakers and black boots. Call me crazy. I am amazed at women who can wear ballet flats when it’s colder than, say, 60 degrees outside. That’s a definite no-go for me. I went trolling for some cute loafers or oxfords, but I can’t find anything that doesn’t either look too clunky or too much like I’ve given up on fashion. Also, I have narrow feet, and apparently all shoemakers believe that the only people with narrow feet are nuns over the age of 70. This makes me cranky. I want spring to get here just so I have a few more choices in footwear. Is that so much to ask?

Who’s planning to watch the Oscars? I’ve seen very few of the movies this year. Quite frankly, most of them were too sad for me to work up the energy to go and see them. I loved Birdman (sad) and (of course) The Grand Budapest Hotel (melancholy), so I’ll definitely be rooting for those two. I may manage to get in either Boyhood or The Imitation Game before Sunday. We’ll see. I’ll watch the show for the dresses if for no other reason. At least that’s something cheerful. Or maybe I’ll just give up and watch Guardians of the Galaxy (a.k.a. Burt Macklin in Space) again. (Edited to add: If there were an award for it, Guardians of the Galaxy would also get my vote for Best Mix Tape.)

Even though I’ve been very good about reading from my TBR, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been buying books. I had some leftover Christmas credit on The Site that Shall Not Be Named, so I may have gone a little crazy snatching up titles on sale, including:

Nonconformity: Writing on Writing, Nelson Algren. I bought this one after reading an interview with Sarah Gran where she mentioned it. I’m always on the lookout for good books about writing, not because I follow advice, but because I like any book that expands my thinking about the act (I cannot bring myself to say, “the craft”).

Black Water Rising, Attica Locke. This was on super sale and has been on my wish list since it was published. I’ve read many good reviews of this one, and I’m hoping she’ll be joining my list of favorite women mystery writers (along with Tana French, Gillian Flynn, Laura Lippman, and Megan Abbott).

After I’m Gone, Laura Lippman. And speaking of favorite female mystery writers, I cannot resist Laura Lippman. She’s one of those authors I always enjoy. I don’t want this to sound like a back-handed compliment, but her books fit the bill for pure entertainment, and I find myself not nitpicking my way through them the way I do sometimes.

Cry Father, Benjamin Whitmer. I’m not sure where I got the idea about this one, but this dark thriller was compared to works by Philip Meyer and Cormac McCarthy, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer. My mother has been telling me about this book forever. I think she reads it twice a year or something. Also, I am probably the last person on earth who hasn’t read it, so there you go.

The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins. This went on my “Most Wanted” list the minute I heard about it (and not because of the annoying “this year’s Gone Girl” comparisons. It seems like the hype has started to die down and I’ve seen some lukewarm review blurbs (not full reviews, because I am wary of spoilers).

Mind of Winter, Laura Kasischke. I loved Kasischke’s novel Suspicious River (fair warning: it’s incredibly dark), and I haven’t read anything else by her in recent years so I thought I’d pick this up.

Best American Short Stories 2014, ed. Jennifer Egan. I used to buy this every year, but I’ve missed several years (like last year’s, edited by Elizabeth Strout). One thing I love about this short story collection is how each editor really takes it in a different direction. One of the best in recent years was Stephen King (although he was a controversial choice), and one of the most disappointing was Alice Sebold (truly a commercial, mediocre writer, she was a terrifically poor choice). So this year it’s Jennifer Egan, and I hope it will be full of interesting selections.

Best American Mystery Stories 2014, ed. Laura Lippman. For those of you who fear the literary short story, this is a great place to get your feet wet. I’ve only been following this collection for the last five years or so, but I’ve been impressed by the quality of the writing overall. And this year’s editor is Laura Lippman, so the stories are bound to be good.

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel. I was ready to dismiss this as the novel everyone’s talking about but probably isn’t that great, but then I decided to read The Lola Quartet and changed my mind because I love the way she writes.

The Might Have Been, Joseph M. Schuster. I heard an interview with Schuster on NPR a few years ago (I can’t find the link anywhere, but this article on Bloom is quite good) and decided to add it to my list. It’s another book about baseball that isn’t really about baseball (see Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding), and I loved the fact that this is Schuster’s first novel, published when he was 59. It’s never too late, folks.

Have a great weekend!

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3 comments

  1. Ha. Ha. We’ll see who has the last laugh when you decide that Into Thin Air is better than your luggage, and then have to read like twice a year yourself, Miss Thing. You will not regret it.

    I myself had what was obviously a complete mental meltdown and went batsh*t crazy buying Karen Armstrong books, which of course I will NEVER read…I love to think I am going to read her stuff, it’s just that my intentions are always better than my actions where she is concerned. It’s like I had to look up the meaning of five words on the FIRST PAGE of one of them…can you say “over your head?” Huh. Well, I will put them on the shelves in the living room, and everyone can THINK I am well-read.

    Watch those Oscars. You can’t miss Neal (Neil?) Patrick Harris. Plus gowns…stars…Brad Pitt.

  2. Mom, I expect I will enjoy Into the Air, or else. 🙂 We are definitely watching the Oscars, if only for NPH. I would watch him read the phone book.

  3. NPH is the best all around entertainer in show business I think! I hope you have fun watching…I’m having a friend over to watch, have some wine and some shrimp creole. Then, batting down the hatches, ice coming!!!

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