The past three months, I’ve gradually been shifting the volume in my stacks so that half of my reading is drawn from my own shelves, but I’m still borrowing lots of good books from the library. April is already a terrific reading month!
The Everyman’s anniversary edition of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1947) called to me from the shelves of my branch library after I watched a documentary on Kanopy. The scenes are rich and densely written, and sometimes required reading aloud to capture the detail therein.
The final volume of Gengorah Tagame’s My Brother’s Husband (2018) is best read leisurely as well. Ironically not because there are so many words, but because there is a lot of emotion behind the few words which present a brother’s grief over his twin’s death. His discomfort with the unexpected arrival of his brother’s lover in Japan, a young man from Canada who was alone with his grief overseas, forces a consideration of his own acceptance and understanding of his brother’s sexuality.
The living brother’s daughter in this series reminds of the titular character in Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&! series. This 2016 volume is the 13th in the series and maintains the largely light-hearted (sometimes fleetingly bittersweet and nostalgic) tone of Yotsuba’s daily life. Food, excursions, games, time spent with the neighbours: nothing much happens, and yet it manages to be charming and optimistic. (She is my antidote to political news.)
Andrea Levy’s Six Stories & an Essay (2014) was a delight to discover on the shelves of the Little Jamaica library branch because I thought I had only two of Andrea Levy’s books left to read. But this is a slim volume, and although the introductions to the short pieces are inviting, more than anything they left me longing for one of her longer works. (More to say about this one in the next Quarterly Short Story post.)
And, finally, a book which is likely to appear on my favourites list for the year: Akiko Busch’s How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency (2019). Although I can see how the very element which I adore – the way she pulls ideas and facts from so many disparate fields (e.g. fine arts, nature, philosophy, film) could annoy other readers, it simply thrills me. Her interconnected musings are such a comfort as winter nears its end.
Vonda N. McIntyre’s Starfarers (1989) was one of the first science-fiction series that I picked up as an adult and also one of the first to challenge my understanding of sci-fi as exclusively male-penned fare.
My first read for #1965Club is Marie-Claire Blais’ A Season in the Life of Emmanuel (1965), her third novel, about a large poverty-stricken Quebecois family (Trans. Derek Coltman,1992), which the focus on the grandmother’s relationship with the children (and some of the sibling relationships).
A longtime shelf-sitter is Anna Brownell Jameson’s Winter Studies and Summer Rambles (1838), one of several volumes of travel-writing which I’ve been curious about since reading Charlotte Gray’s biography of Jameson and her sister, Catherine Parr Traill.
The current volume of my short story reading project, Mavis Gallant’s Home Truths (1981), finishes with the six autobiographical stories which consider Linnet Muir. The next volume is Overhead in a Balloon, which will be a fresh read for me, beginning in June.
My next read for #1965 Club is the sequel to Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy (1964), The Long Secret (1965), a volume which I never loved as much as I loved meeting Harriet for the first time. So I’m reading partly to refresh my memory (I only remember feeling uncomfortable) and partly to see if I can understand why the first story was such a hit for young-reading-me and the second such a miss for that young girl.
The book that I constantly want to sneak a few pages of this month? Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (2014). And the sequel is waiting in the wings.
As for my ongoing MRE authors project, Michael Crummey’s Hard Light (1998) is in my stack, although I’m only reading a few pages in a sitting, so it might well linger into May. (His Galore is a most favourite of favourites.)