I am fascinated with Native American/Indian literature and cultural history. In this collection of short stories, Alexie does a wonderful job of expressing the pain of the Native past, and the hopelessness of its future, in an unique way. I did find it difficult to stay interested, though, in that the stories were simultaneously connected and disjointed. Most of the characters were present throughout the collection, and each of the stories had something different to tell about life and experiences on the reservation, in the bars, in the HUD home shambles and, perhaps most importantly, on the basketball court. Still, the inability to tell a straight and direct story is perhaps the real dilemma which Alexie is attempting to express. All the characters’ stories are exaggerated – created for the illusions of comfort, power, home, and even health. We find similar methods in the old Irish folk tales and even early American Folklore (i.e. Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, etc.); however, there is something more honest about the Native tales – the magical realism isn’t intended to be believable, yet still manages to be so, somehow. Perhaps because, though the stories themselves are doubtful, the words and thoughts (the spoken and unspoken) express so much – and the heartache, the disaster that was Native American eradication and displacement, cannot possibly be told within the confines of typical “white man” narration. I’m interested to read more Alexie, after this collection. Though it wasn’t my favorite read, it was surely worth the time.
Tracks by Louise Erdrich
Very interesting story.. sort of a metaphysical native-American type thing. It’s been a while since I read it, but I remember liking it.
Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
To me, this book had an extremely slow start. I was disinterested through the first 400 pages, but I persisted. And thank goodness. The last 150 pages, I believe, made the book the “Pulitzer Prize” winner that it is. It was impressive writing and information throughout, but the extended climax and conclusion are what really made this book worth reading. I wouldn’t have recommended the book three days ago, but today I think it’s a must-read.
Rain God by Arturo Islas
Enjoyable and real. An honest, heart-breaking look at homosexuality and Mexican-American culture. Humor, family, terminal illness, magical realism, terror, brutality, and peace. Wonderful, powerful read.
King Dork by Frank Portman
Very funny. Very good. Read it.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Not just an incredible science-fiction novel, but an incredible novel, period. Masterful story-telling, incredible characterization and plot development. Overwhelming in it’s perfect execution and follow-through.
Demian by Hermann Hesse
Very good book.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
I read this book for the first time as an adult (after having seen the Disney movie many times when a child) and find that it is incredibly more complex and important than one could ever imagine. The story is genius, as is Carroll’s creativity with language, prose, and imagination. He is witty, sarcastic, and pleasantly parodic. This has become one of my top-five novels of all time, and not in the “juvenile” category.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Stolen Child by Keith Donahue
This book took me forever to read. It was just… a lot more boring than it should have been, considering the very interesting subject matter and plot. I think it would make a wild movie, but the book lacks something.
Hobomok by Lydia Maria Francis Child
Pretty interesting and fairly realistic (as opposed to The Last of the Mohicans, say?) depiction of the interaction between puritans and native americans.
Wrong by Dennis Cooper
Wow. Dennis Cooper.
Dream Boy: A Novel by Jim Grimsley
One of the first gay novels I ever read – probably picked it up in 8th or 9th grade. It’s well written, fun, sad, cute, tragic, sexy, and beautiful. I’ve read it 3 or 4 times over the years.
The Brothers Bishop by Bart Yates
Very interesting gay fiction.. two brothers, both gay. One responsible, one not. One a high school english teacher, fallen for a student but able to keep his distance. The other, well, doesn’t keep his distance. And all the fun, drama, and consequence to follow.
Haunted: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk
Twisted and Bizzare and absolutely wonderful.
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Pretty good read. I think I actually enjoyed the movie more, though.