Monday, January 5, 2009

leap into prose

Been reading only poetry for awhile (and my favorites happen to be in the area--Susan Grimm and Mary Biddinger), but broke my fiction fast with the much-hyped, in-need-of-editing The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I liked much of it for reasons that don't really matter to anyone else, but it got me rolling on more fiction (which rhymes with addiction for a reason). Next up was The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud and described as a comedy of manners set in New York right before 9/11. Very ambivalent about this one. Then I gravitated to Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris, which contains a bit of viciousness that I liked. Last night I plucked from my massive, unorganized piles The Catherine Wheel by Jean Stafford, which I've tried to read before.

Anybody read these books? Although interesting, they are not helping me with writer's block.

8 comments:

Maureen McHugh said...

I read The Emperor's Children and while I found it sufficient for a plane ride, I sold it to Half Proce books. When Austen did a comedy of manners, it stepped lightly but revealed great hideous cracks int he social structure. The Emperor's Children was neither as light, nor as instructive.

Erin O'Brien said...

Can you believe it? I was asked to lead a fun class on the "Twilight" series at Lakeland, so I'm reading all 2000+ pages of something written by a Mormon.

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"disisate" is my word verification test for this comment. Now THAT should be a word meaning the state of being disappointed with one's state of not being disappointed.

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

I liked Edgar Sawtelle - although much too long. Also read "The Hour I First Believed" (550 pgs) but much more fast-paced, almost too much happening.

Amy said...

Maureen: in agreement with you.
EOB: your definition of disisate is great. I'm staying away from Twilight only because I'm afraid it'll cut into my TV time. (Ha.)
Diane: yeah, Edgar Sawtelle needed some slicing...

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

If you want some more poetry to read I have a newly published chapbook!

CB said...

Hi Amy, never commented here, but here goes.

I read Sawtelle, too, and liked aspects of it a lot. I liked his prose, which was lyrical yet remained naturalistic and psychologically acute. But I thought he was far too wed to the Hamlet plot, and sometimes forced his story to fit that one. Also? The pov shifts in the chapters where Edgar runs away, the ones that leave Edgar's perspective for maybe only a half a page, just so we can see Edgar and the dogs moving through the woods and a little girl noticing them? It seemed like a cheap scene from a Hollywood movie. Look how amazing this kid and his dogs are, how a part of the landscape they are, spooky and grand. That sort of thing. It desperately needed editing, and an editor who would have talked to the writer about freeing himself up from the Hamlet plot in some spots. But again, the prose itself was lovely.

Amy said...

Diane, I will check out your new book! And CB--agree completely.

davidfarkas said...

Lovely blog. Thanks for the novel advice. Will likely take it.

2 cents: I recently read Roth's Indignation and Jim Harrison's The English Major in rapid succession. Minimalist vs baroque. Quite an experience.