january 2011 reading

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson — Our library sponsors a mystery book discussion group, and January’s selection was actually all the Stieg Larsson novels and/or movies — read or watch whatever you want and come discuss. I worked my way through the whole trilogy over the course of the month because, if nothing else, they are compelling, and I am just as bad as the rest of the world when it comes to wanting to know what happens next when a main character has a bullet in the head. It’s also nice to read a thriller with committed leftwingers in it, although like Melanie Newman, I have some discomfort with the discrepancy between Larsson’s professed feminism and the way he writes about women.

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert — Two of my best and oldest friends are getting married. I am a marriage skeptic, and I’d heard good things about this book from other marriage skeptics, so I thought I’d check it out. Gilbert is a breezy and entertaining sort of writer, and she is pleasantly skeptical about the institution, but I was left largely underwhelmed by her sort of slapdash anthropology.

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

We All Fall Down by Nic Sheff — I am amused to no end that WorldCat has the following subject headings for this book: Biography : Fiction : Juvenile audience. I read this via NetGalley (thanks, Michelle!) on the library’s Sony eReader. It’s the first time I’ve ever read an entire book in a digital format, and it worked well enough for this book, which is full of very short sentences and white space and is your basic addiction memoir narrative.

[listen] Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon — This is a novel about identity and identity theft that I ordered for my old library but hadn’t gotten around to reading. I was playing around with downloadable audio at my new library and discovered it was available that way, and, through some set of miracles, I even got it to play on my iPod. It’s an addictive and creepy story with lots of different characters who seem to be totally disconnected to each other but who eventually meet up, which I always love.

There’s a Road to Everywhere Except Where You Came From by Charles Bryan — Bryan is a struggling writer dude who moves to New York City in 1998 and ends up getting a job on Wall Street writing marketing copy for an investment bank. This is as soul-crushing and awful as you might imagine, and it becomes all the more so when he’s at work on September 11, 2001. Bryan’s a fan of minimalism, and it shows in his prose. It works well for the story he tells.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

2 comments

  1. Mark

    Fully agree with you on the Gilbert book. In fact, I found some of her “slapdash anthropology” bordering on the offensive and perhaps even “crossing the border.” I don’t remember the specifics but some of the bits in the Vietnamese village were particularly galling.

    All in all, she is a highly privileged Westerner who is easily able to change her convictions on something because it has become convenient to do so. But, yes, breezy and entertaining. Then again, perhaps there is a connection between those two ideas ….

  2. laura

    Well, to her credit, she acknowledges from the get-go that she’s not trained as an anthropologist or as much of anything else. I don’t remember things being particularly galling taken in that context, but then I’m a highly privileged Westerner with a lot of blind spots, too.

Liked by