Weekend Reads- Sex and Vanity

Good morning! And happy long weekend!

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Here is my book: Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

And here is my breakfast: Bagel and lox from my local café

What a strange Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. It is overcast and on the nippy end in New York today, after some glorious weather Friday and an upcoming week in the 70s. In an alternate version of 2020, I was supposed to be in Santa Barbara this weekend celebrating my cousin Joe’s wedding. I’d been looking forward to it for over a year. My plane ticket was booked, my outfits had been selected, and then the world halted. Compared to what many have gone through, this is nothing but a sad blip, and we’ll gather next year instead–same venue, same weekend, same outfits.

I’m very excited to settle into Kevin Kwan’s latest novel, given my well documented love of the Crazy Rich Asians series. (Thank you, Doubleday!) I logged into my long dormant NetGalley account this weekend and have had lots of fun browsing the options. Sex and Vanity is among my most anticipated of 2020 (out June 30) and given that I would very much like to attend a wedding on Capri right now, I think this will be a perfect pick-me-up. I’d tell you more about it, but I’ve barely started!

I have a new writing project I’m excited about, although it requires much more research than anything I’ve written previously, but I have a solid base knowledge to work with (why didn’t I think of this years ago?!). Everything is slow going in the early stages, but now that I’m nearly finished with the Italian course on Duolingo, I’m ready for a new quarantine hobby.

Wishing you a safe and happy weekend!

 

Weekend Reads- Wow, No Thank You

Good morning!

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Here is my book: Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

(Is this the first time someone has read Italo Calvino and Samantha Irby simultaneously?)

And here is my breakfast: A maple bacon biscuit (the last one of the batch!) and coffee

I haven’t read as I thought I would during quarantine. I have the attention span of a gnat. I have lots of submissions that don’t seem to catch my interest (but several that have!). I’ve been using this indeterminable time to read things that I’ve meant to get to—Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, Italo Calvino’s Le città invisibili. (Italians, apparently, since I’ve been learning Italian.) I’ve also read a few other things for fun: The Hotel Neversink, Sometimes I Lie, Watch Me Disappear, The Forbidden Kingdom, all of which were winners.

But Samantha Irby and Wow, No Thank You is honestly the most fun I’ve had reading in a long time. I laughed out loud at least every page and spat my drink out several times. It was exactly the balm I needed right now. Many have mourned the fact that books coming out during the pandemic may get less attention—which I don’t think is entirely true, given the resources that have popped up to support them—and author tours are certainly impossible, but I do think this humorous essay collection happened to come out at the perfect time. I admire the confessional style here, although it’s something I think I’d rarely attempt on my own. But I was inspired by it! So expect a less writing and editing-focused post about quarantine soon.

Honestly, aside from the laughs, my self-directed takeaway was that there’s no one right way to live a life, a comforting thought now more than ever.

Weekend Reads- In the Dream House

Here is my book: In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

Here is my breakfast: Eric Kayser baguette and coffee

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I’ve been following Carmen Maria Machado’s career for a few years, ever since the submission for Her Body and Other Parties came around. The book went on to receive much deserved attention and awards. I’m drawn to fiction with an element of fabulism and folklore, which comes from a personal desire, I think, to understand how and why we tell stories as well as why certain stories transcend time. I believe, too, that sometimes an unreality–metaphors turned literal–can better illustrate a moment or emotion.

Parul Sehgal wrote a stunning review of this book in the New York Times, explaining the magic of this book in ways much more articulate than I can.

But this isn’t entirely fiction. This memoir, for lack of a better term for this genre-bending work, was one of the most hotly anticipated books of the year for me. Machado employs a number of different narrative forms, genres, and tropes as she unfurls the story of her abusive relationship. It is smart and witty; shocking and sad. A bundle of contradictions, just the way I love my books. I admiredthe way she integrates the archival silence of domestic abuse in queer relationship into the larger narrative, using her personal story as a way to explore how and why certain stories are told (a topic of great discussion in the literary world this week) and endure.

I’m a form nut, so seeing her manipulate her personal story into various literary genres, fascinated me. Form provides the lens through which we view the story, setting up our expectations, which Machado then subverts. It’s amazing to see this done so skillfully–because it takes incredible skill to pull off this stitching of forms.

But I also enjoy reading Carmen Maria Machado’s work for her language–the pure joy of reading. I’ll leave with the last paragraph of “Dream House as Folktale Taxonomy.”

“There is a Quichua riddle: El que me nombra, me rompe. Whatever names me, breaks me. The solution, of course, is ‘silence.’ But the truth it, anyone who knows your name can break you in two.”

Highly recommending this one for fans of literary fiction, fabulism, and anyone interested in narrative form.