Since I ended last year on a crusade to target male fiction readers (see my holiday guest post at EWN), and since this blog is written by three (okay, four—and counting) guys, and since I’m such a macho dude (Baby Bjorn and diaper bag, notwithstanding), I decided to focus my year-end list on manly books. And that’s not to say that these books won’t totally appeal to women, it’s just to say that they all in some way speak to traditionally manly subject matter.War. Hunting. Meat night.
Carver has been an active part of my adult life and for the most part, the reason I’ve tried to become a writer. I like his people, they’re believable, and certainly more real than real, in most cases. Reading the Ann Beattie stories made me want to grab a Carver story, just to have it as a comparison.
As a teenager I’d affected a vaguely literary air—writing bad poetry and growing my hair longer than now seems folically feasible—but I’d never done the deep reading to justify it. That summer, I made a start. I read the Brontes (various); Hardy (the suicidally depressing one); Jane Austen; F. Scott Fitzgerald (the short stories, I think).
I have a very ambitious plan for this collection, but to spell it out would drain it’s potency. I’ll probably screw it up, so… I didn’t always understand Walks With Men, because it flipped around, and through very tight and sparse sadness, seemed to fold in on itself. What that means, I don’t know.
All the books I’m highlighting this week are paperbacks, tis the season and all. I read a couple of them back when they were forthcoming in hardcover. Point Omega is another fine book by Don DeLillo. It might be better thought of as a novella, slim volume such as it is, but it has numerous memorable scenes, notably the early scene with the film installation. The book of the week for me, however, is The Lotus Eaters, Tatjana Soli’s amazing, if cover-challenged novel of a woman photojournalist during the Vietnam War.