Some of us admit we are taking a break from reading this week to watch Sherlock Season 1 before Sunday’s Season 2 premiere (cheaters see this wonderful primer by our own Katie Hoffman). As for the rest of SP:
1.) I’m reading The Book of Dead Philosophers by Simon Critchley.
I have to cop to not having read Critchley until I found out I was going to be doing an event with him (COMMERCIAL INTERRUPTION: COME SEE ME READ WITH CRITCHLEY ON TUESDAY, MAY 8TH, AT (LE) POISSON ROUGE, 6 PMish), but I’ve clearly been missing out. This book—one of many he’s written—looks at the lives and deaths of close to 200 hundred philosophers in entries from a paragraph to several pages. Shares DNA with the Lives of the Saints, or one of Montaigne’s more various essays, or—another remarkable book on the topic—Al Ghazali’s 11th century work, Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife. Critchley is super readable—I’d make a junk food comparison, if there was a form of junk food that was thought provoking and nourishing for your soul.
In short, read it. If anyone has any thoughts of what other Critchley I should try next, please say so in the comments.
-Mark Doten, Editor
2.) I’m sort of lit-juggling. This includes our very own That’s Not A Feeling by Dan Josefson, which is quiet in its intensity but subconsciously hypnotizing in a way I cannot describe yet, so I’ve been letting it seep while perusing London city-guides (underrated and fascinating), and I am also currently obsessed with Henry James’ Selected Letters. This one here in particular, which Letters of Notes so rightly names “one of the greatest letters of advice,” is a response to a sorrowful letter from his friend Grace Norton. Read it if you need some perspective on sadness, or if, like me, you’re just into melancholia.
-Simona Blat, Editorial Assistant
3.) I’m reading Richard Yates’ Collected Stories. His characters’ dreams are thwarted or never realized, the tragedy of which is only amplified by the fact that their dreams are invariably modest and small, seemingly attainable. Yates teaches us the rather grim lesson that dreaming big can be preferable, if only because the failure is much more easily suffered.
-PJ Horoszko, Intern
4.) Still reading The Lifeboat!
-Meredith Barnes, Publicist
5.) I’m reading Fuminori Nakamura’s The Thief and Sharon Shinn’s Summers at Castle Auburn. Quite an interesting mix, I can assure you, going from streets of Tokyo to the mystical halls of Castle Auburn.
-Katie Hoffman, Editorial Assistant
6.) Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig. A structurally weird but incredibly humanistic book, and one of the best uses of footnotes by any author.
-Scott Cain, Editorial Assistant
7.) I’m all about Matt Bell’s novella Cataclysm Baby this week. The bones of the book are 26 short chapters representing a selection of baby names from each letter of the alphabet A-Z. Cool. But the meat and brains and soul are the slow burn of Bell’s sentences and his unsentimental rendering of the monstrous, bloody mess that birth and parenting can be in a human world stripped bare. It’s maybe like this + this.
-Rudy Martinez, Marketeer
8.) I’m reading Julie Otsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic, which just won this year’s PEN/Faulkner (although our own Luminarium beat her out for LA Times Book Prize! I’m really enjoying it a lot, so further proof Alex Shakar beat out some stiff competition for his much-deserved prize!). It’s told in the plural first person—a “we” narrative, which I haven’t seen since Jeffrey Eugenides’s Virgin Suicides—about a group of picture brides who come over to America from Japan in the 1920s. I’ve had a rough week of lots of submission reading, and I gotta tell you I love how short and satisfying a read it is. Lyrical and emotional but concise and accessible. Yay!
-Juliet Grames, Senior Editor
9.) Still reading (okay, rereading) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I’m also rereading latter parts of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States because of all the glorious racket outside our windows on May 1. Power to the People, people.
-Daniel Ehrenhaft, YA Editor
What are you reading? Let us know!