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SKQ Reads: Fall 2014

Nearing the end of our album cycle has meant less press and radio obligations which has freed up a great deal of time and energy for my favorite pastime; reading! I end up losing and lending a few along the way, but here are the ones that have made it back to be stacked amongst my ever-growing collection. I’ve added a few of my favorite earmarks to fill in for my lack of “reviews”.

Bark, Lorrie Moore

Can’t and Won’t, Lydia Davis

Berlin Stories, Robert Walser

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler

I absolutely adored this novel. A touching and funny story that made me laugh and produced more than a few tears.

A Natural History Of The Senses, Diane Ackerman

Empire Of Illusion, Chris Hedges

Oblivion, David Foster Wallace

Pirates and Farmers, Dave Hickey

Sometimes I can’t decide if I really like what I’m reading because of the strong urge I’ve always felt to JUST FINISH. That’s meant struggling through many novels and non-fiction that any normal person would just put down and never think of again. I don’t feel that way about this book, but I did find myself thinking about my favorite Dave Hickey collection, Air Guitar, more than I did this one. Could have been the less relevant (to my life) topics. Still a great critical thinker whom I enjoy very much!

Artful, Ali Smith

“To be known so well by someone is an unimaginable gift. But to be imagined so well by someone is even better.” This was an impulse buy, and I will cherish it. Incredibly beautiful, start to finish.

My Struggle, Karl Ove Knausgaard

My Struggle 2, Karl Ove Knausgaard

I quite enjoyed the first two books and I’m about to dig in to the third one. They are long and filled with an almost absurd amount of detail but I can’t deny that I felt imbedded in the story because of it.

The Informed Air, Muriel Spark

The Doors Of Perception and Heaven and Hell, Aldous Huxley

Provence, 1970, Luke Barr

I took a short vacation this summer to Provence and this title came highly recommended from a trusted source. It was so enjoyable and had that mysterious quality that gives you the sense you’ve been transported elsewhere while reading it. It also had crazy detailed descriptions of meals that made me very hungry.

She of the Mountains, Vivek Shraya

Deeply proud of Vivek and his newest book. Beautiful and gracious, I truly loved reading this book. The illustrations are also terrific.

The Guest Cat, Takashi Hiraide

You had me at “cat,” Takashi. Really a sweet story that I have thought of many times since reading it.

“Looking back on it now, I’d say one’s thirties are a cruel age. At this point, I think of them as a time I whiled away unaware of the tide that can suddenly pull you out, beyond the shallows, into the sea of hardship, and even death.”

Pitch Dark, Renata Adler

Terrific and strange.

Ecstatic Cahoots, Stuart Dybek

Paper Lantern, Stuart Dybek

Until recently I rarely sought out short stories. With a handful of outstanding recommendations I have been converted. These two by Stuart Dyber were particularly killer.

From the story, ‘Waiting’,

“Sometimes the wait is imperceptible, but it can also seem interminable- waiting for a phone call from a lover or from the doctor who may pause before delivering what feels more like a sentence than a diagnosis, the kind of call in which the undecided seems suddenly to have been decided long before, as if it’s no accident that in the mystical, kabbalistic workings of language, fate and wait are paired in rhyme”

The Invention of Solitude, Paul Auster

I was very moved by this book. To write so intensely and honestly about a family member seems to me a terribly brave thing to do.

“Having money means more than being able to buy things: it means that the world need never affect you. Money in the sense of protection, then, not pleasure. Having been without money as a child, and therefore vulnerable to the whims of the world, the idea of wealth became synonymous for him with the idea of escape: from harm, from suffering, from being a victim. He was not trying to buy happiness, buy simply an absence of unhappiness.”

100 Essays I don’t Have Time To Write, Sarah Ruhl

So much to say about this little gem. I found it was easy to draw comparisons between The Music Industry and Theater World which allowed me to really go deep. I thought much about this line, “There is now a prevailing notion that audiences give artists ideas and feedback and also money–a completely one-way exchange–no wonder playwrights feel so constantly in debt: we are the world’s succubi!”

“How long have we been giving the audience responsibility for helping us to write the play rather than the freedom to enjoy it?”

Highly recommend it!

My Life in France, Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme 

This was a total joy to read while lying in the South of France enjoying mid day drinks next to the pool, occasionally staring out across the Luberon Valley. Does that not sound delightful!? It was! What struck me most about this book was the discovering that Julia Child was a wonderful, ambitious woman with a deeply positive attitude about language, food and life! Such a trailblazer!