Thursday, November 12, 2015
Knopf 100--Day 25
93. Turns out that we've written quite a bit about E.M. Forster books which I don't think either of us realized until a minute ago when Liz called to yell at me for another repeat. I just hate Liz. The thing about Forster though, is his books are really good and he writes women particularly well. He's the Aaron Sorkin of his time (that's a complete joke about Aaron Sorkin by the way). On an earlier blog I said that A Passage to India was my favorite novel of Forster, but can I change my mind? He got better with every novel to be sure, so maybe Passage to India is more mature or technically better, but Howards End is really wonderful, really funny, and goddamn, what a fantastic cast of smart women. I would say this, if you haven't read A Room With a View, Howards End, Maurice, or A Passage to India, you should. They are classics in every sense of the word, and particularly if you've read Austen, give Forster a try.
94. We did a thirty day challenge on the blog a couple of years ago and one of the questions was something like, name a book you loved but don’t anymore. Well, I mentioned a few books that I suspected I wouldn’t like as much (To Kill a Mockingbird was one) but thought it unfair to say unless I went back and re-read the specific books. Another of the books I mentioned that perhaps I wouldn’t love was Anne Tyler’s Accidental Tourist. Well, I did re-read last year it and I can just go blow, because I really just love that book! The plot revolves around a travel writer whose teenage son was murdered in a robbery. His marriage falls apart and he seems to drift and drift until he is homebound with is very odd siblings and a dog that needs some training. I completely and thoroughly enjoyed love this book and am embarrassed that I ever thought I could not love such a powerful book. I highly recommend reading it. I still think I would be disappointed with a Mockingbird revisit…
95. Are you in the mood for a really dark book? A really crazy good, dark book you will not be able to put down? It’s a good winter book, a good rainy day book. Simple Plan by Scott Smith, is a jaw dropper. Here is the plot: Two brothers and a friend happen upon a small plane crash is a small midwestern town (I think its Iowa or Ohio, look it up I can’t remember everything, geez). In the debris they find the dead pilot and a bag containing several million dollars. One wants to call the police, the other two are normal and say, uh…no, we are keeping the cash, man. They agree that they will hold on to the money for a few weeks and if nothing suspicious happens they will split it evenly. Well, turns out that Confucius was right, mo money, mo problems.
96. I think I will go with the flow here and mention another dark novel, though unlike Simple Plan, this novel is certainly more of a thriller, but do understand that it is incredibly well written and character driven. In fact, I would say April Smith’s North of Montana is one of the best debut novels I’ve ever read, really outstanding. This book is the first in a series, the main character is a young smart FBI agent, Ana Grey. In North of Montana the plot revolves around a very convoluted drug case, a movie star, and a young doctor. Lots of plot twists, this book is smart. I can also recommend Good Morning Killer, which is a few books later in the same series, but you don’t have to read these in order.
57. I have been instructed by Liz that since I can't follow simple instructions and not repeat books she has chosen, I must replace my earlier pick of Plainsong. I wanted to settle it over three sets of tennis but considering how very out out of shape and lazy both Liz and I are, I am officially agreeing to replace Plainsong with Birds of America by Lorrie Moore.
It's important to understand that Birds of America isn't one of the best collections of stories ever published, it's simply one of the best books ever published. Don't come at us with some shit about not liking short stories; stop saying that, it's nonsense. These stories are heartbreaking, smart, and darkly funny. A few of my favorites: Real Estate is about a woman battling cancer who refuses to put up with her husbands continued infidelity. People Like That are the Only People Here (this is a story David Sedaris often mentions as one of his favorites) is somewhat based on Moore's own experience with her sick child. And maybe my favorite, Willing, about a down on her luck middle aged actress who moves to the Midwest and lives out of a motel while dating a mechanic. She hates this. I can't think of a young writer, a good literary writer who can not look to this book as an influence. I am going to be so mad with you people if you don't read this book.