One night a few weeks ago, I couldn’t sleep. Redeployment, by Phil Klay, was my current read, and that book – so intense, so astonishing, so amazing – was a bit too heavy for me in my insomniac state. I needed an entertaining and somewhat lighter read, but it still had to have bite. I am a book snob, after all, and if a story is too easy or too common, I’ll drop it in two seconds. When I’m searching for a new book, I always check the Booker Prize nomination lists and winners – and so it was I happened upon Patrick deWitt’s (whose last book, The Sisters Brothers, was shortlisted for the Booker) Undermajordomo Minor. I downloaded the book to my Kindle at 2 a.m., and while of course I wished I could sleep, the story lifted my mood and engaged me immediately. The book presents itself as a fable in the vein of a traditional Hero’s Journey, but the events – and the real, raw humanity at the heart of deWitt’s characters – make the novel relatable and meaningful commentary about defining oneself, finding and accepting love, and sorting through the best and worst of one’s own character to find acceptance and purpose in life. I adored this book, and was left in awe of the writer’s ability to make me laugh out loud while also touching the most poignant parts of my psyche. It’s a delightful must-read.
What I’m reading now… Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
This novel, a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award, has received lots of acclaim. The story recounts the history of Lotto and Mathilde’s marriage and spans a period of over 20 years. I’m only a hundred pages in, and I want to keep reading, though the author’s tendency toward semi-stream-of-consciousness narrative loses me sometimes. It isn’t pages upon pages of run-on sentences a la Faulkner or Joyce, but I sometimes have a tough time following Groff’s meaning. I can sit with frustration in books until the author decides to reveal things to me, but I dislike fancy writing for fancy’s sake. I can’t tell which is which yet – I have a feeling being patient with this author is worth it, despite wanting more clarity in the prose at certain parts. But I do know I want to keep reading.
I subscribe to the real-life-paper version of New York Times on Sundays, and I am not ashamed to confess that Sunday Styles is always the section I pull out and read first. I never miss a Modern Love column, and the column never fails to make me cry. Modern Love pieces are contributed by readers – they are not composed by New York Times staff writers – and they usually focus on some type of unusual twist or event in a romantic love story. This week’s column, however, detailed a type of love that isn’t romantic but is love all the same – that of the writer’s relationship with her doorman at her building in New York City, and the ways in which he showed her the respect, concern and consistency her steady stream of suitors who came through her building’s doors did not. Do yourself a favor and click over to the column to read online.