2018 Books Read

2018 Books Read

1. Tamburlaine, Part 1, by Christopher Marlowe
I finished 2017 with Paradise Lost, in the mood to continue with rigorous challenging poetry. I decided to read the complete plays of Christopher Marlowe (re-read in most cases). The project took all year, since I took months off after starting it. But it’s quite an illuminating and gratifying thing to do, I highly recommend it. His plays are so daunting, so gigantic, so violent … it’s hard to even grasp them in one go. Tamburlaine has always been my favorite – I’ve written about it before – especially the way Marlowe imagines himself into a tyrant’s head, a man with almost unimaginable power. What does the world look like from the point of view of such a person? How do they see themselves? How do they see the world? The language of both Tamburlaines is some of the greatest poetry on earth.

2. Tamburlaine, Part 2, by Christopher Marlowe
Marlowe presents a world with no morals, no uplift, no “and what we have all learned from this is …” He abandons you: you must think for yourself.

3. Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, by John E. Douglas
I read this one since I got so sucked into the David Fincher mini-series (which I HIGHLY recommend). The adaptation is the thing here. I wrote a thing on Twitter (in 140 character bursts) about it, since I just re-watched the series, and was thinking a lot about the strange “voice” of the book, and how Fincher et al translated that into this series. Which is not just a “serial killer procedural” – although it has those elements too. It’s a period piece, and embedded within it is a critique of rigidly enforced masculinity – not just in the serial killers, but also in those who hunt them. The book is a very weird book. Douglas reveals way more about himself than he thinks he does. I read the book and feel a sense of familiarity – I know guys like this, we all do, know-it-all guys, guys who tell stories where they always come out on top in the end. But it’s so inadvertent you wonder if you might be missing something. Fincher clearly “heard” that aspect of the voice, too. And really goes after it in the mini-series.

4. Edward II, by Christopher Marlowe
A history play about some very ugly irredeemable people.

5. Where I Was From, by Joan Didion
A re-read. Joan Didion’s excellent book on California, part memoir, part history, part contemporary reportage. It’s one of my favorites of hers.

6. The Stories of John Cheever, by John Cheever
I was inspired to finally eradicate this “gap” in my reading through Olivia Laing’s superb The Trip to Echo Spring, in which John Cheever is one of the alcoholic writers profiled. The weird thing is: I have heard so much about “The Swimmer” (even before I saw the movie) that a part of me almost felt like I had read the story. It’s like “The Dead” or something, a short story with such towering stature it arrives into you by osmosis. I first read “The Swimmer” – and all of his stories – this winter. They are so bleak it was quite a chore. I can’t remember who said it, but … there is no catharsis in John Cheever. He leaves you no way out. Before there was even the term “male privilege” (so overused now I was sick of it as of last year) … John Cheever was its most brutal chronicler. Every single story is about unearned “male privilege,” “The Swimmer” being the most obvious example, but in story after story – showing us men who were mediocre, and yet who assumed they were excellent and unique – men who yearn to join the country club set – they “deserve” it – empty men, hollow men … Cheever goes after his sex like almost no other author. He’s brilliant. I am very glad I took care of this gap. Enough already. It’s also a good corrective to those who think they’re the first ones who noticed male privilege. Please. Read Cheever.

7. Heart Songs and Other Stories, by Annie Proulx
One of my favorite authors. I had no idea she just published a GIGANTIC novel: Barkskins: A Novel. Like, Don DeLillo’s Underworld gigantic. Her longest novel yet. I am so excited to read it I’m almost nervous. These early short stories are wonderful.

8. The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, by Masha Gessen
Masha Gessen pisses some people off – on the left and the right. So many authors I love piss people off on the left and the right, equally. Starting with Orwell. Whistler blowers. This on-the-ground exploration – from a Russian – a gay Russian – who fled Russia herself – of how Putin did what he did – is a must-read. Her focus on LGBTQ issues is one of her biggest contributions, since it’s such a huge part of what’s going on there. A lot of “straight” writers have a blind spot about this, or it’s referenced in among many other more “important” things. Gessen focuses on it. She’s lived it. She’s said some things which have gotten people riled up. She’s not a party-line person. For me, this is in her favor (whether I agree with her or not is irrelevant). Your mileage may vary.

9. In Europe’s Shadow: Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey Through Romania and Beyond, by Robert Kaplan
I’ve been revisiting Robert Kaplan’s essential work, catching up on some of the books he published since I took a Kaplan break. This one, about Romania and his love for Romania, his travels there – from the Cold War to now – is gorgeous. He’s one of my favorite writers. He and Rebecca West – both – were responsible for putting Croatia on my radar, way back when.

10. Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music, by Ellen Willis
Ellen Willis was the first pop music critic for The New Yorker. Many of these pieces appeared there for the first time. A great great music writer (although that was only one aspect of her career.)

11. The Essential Ellen Willis, by Ellen Willis
Having not had enough of Willis, I moved on to this great collection of her political and feminist writing. I wish her piece on Monica Lewinsky had resurrected itself over this past year. It deserves to be part of the conversation. I distrust conversations that feel like monoliths. I can’t help it. 100% agreement makes me itchy, makes me wait for the shoe to drop. Willis’ radical feminism was too radical for many back in the day and she was front and center in a lot of those internecine wars that feel so archaic now – but – in many ways, are still being fought over. One of the things that comes up again and again and again in Willis’ writing is pleasure. She put pleasure at the top of the list of things worth fighting for. Now THAT’S radical.

12. Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI, by Robert K. Ressler
Still watching Mindhunter, figured I’d re-visit this one. I can’t get enough of this stuff.

13. The Art of American Screen Acting, 1912-1960, by Dan Callahan
An amazing book, one of the essential books of the year. I interviewed Dan about it for Slant Magazine.

14. The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, by Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe died, which sent me on an orgy of re-reading. It’s been years. He is so much fun. He has longer staying power than many of his contemporaries, the other “New Journalist” guys. His style is audacious, you can’t even believe he gets away with it. And maybe he doesn’t sometimes. But he swings you along on his momentum, and he’s nearly impossible to resist. These essays are the ones that made him famous. Terrific.

15. Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce
In January, I got an assignment for Film Comment which made me pick this up to read it straight through. They asked me to review Mary Ellen Bute’s film adaptation of Joyce’s novel. I had enough lead time that I thought, “Okay. I wasn’t PLANNING on reading Finnegans Wake this year, but oh well, HERE GOES IT.” As I did the last time I read it, I read a couple of pages every morning – out loud (I can’t stress how key this is: it LOOKS incomprehensible on the page, but sound it out – you’ll find the sense there) – and finished it in a couple of months. This has been a very very hard year for our family. The Finnegans Wake ritual was practically sacred to me, a grounding start to the day, an immersion into this beautiful ur-language, just swimming around in the pure genius of the whole thing. When I sat down to write my review of the Mary Ellen Bute film, I was MORE than ready.

16. On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
It’s interesting. This book can get tiresome. You want to tell them all to go home, stop drinking, get some rest. But what I like to do is imagine myself back to the time when it was published, how much it represented a rebellion of the spirit and mind, particularly for men – who were trapped by patriarchal structures just as women were. What would it mean for men to stop accepting handed-down tropes for their sex? Not accepting boredom and repression as your lot in life. There’s clearly a queer element to all of this. Everyone is so obsessed with Dean Moriarty – the book is, in a lot of ways, a meditation on charisma. My father loved this book. It was HUGE for his generation, the conventional-Eisenhower-era-man-in-grey-suit generation. It doesn’t travel all that well, despite some beautiful passages – but you can feel, trembling in those passages, the revolution it represented … and what was coming …

17. State of the Art, by Pauline Kael
She’s so much fun. I like arguing with her in my head. I like how she writes.

18. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe
You would swear that Tom Wolfe was there all along, ON that bus. An amazing piece of reportage, especially the one or two moments where he senses, “Okay … this is all about to go very very wrong …”

19. On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan
I was assigned to review the film adaptation, and I had a feeling the adaptation would be an important element. I read the book when it first came out and remembered the very strange and unique TONE of the book, its distance, almost social-studies distance. Needless to say, the film was unable to capture that tone, and therefore unable to tell the story it was meant to tell. Here’s my review.

20. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, by Michelle McNamara
I got swept away by this whole thing. An amazing (and sad, considering her early death) portrait of obsession.

21. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff
That opening scene of election night … these horrible grifters disgust me so much. I say this with all the patriotism I possess (and that’s a lot of patriotism).

22. Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific, by Robert Kaplan
More catching up with Kaplan. He’s been a canary in a coalmine for a while. He mixes optimism with pessimism, in the way only a person with the long view of history can achieve. Short-term memory is a REAL problem now, people thinking their generation invented this or that, or that history has never confronted this or that before … Kaplan’s knowledge goes back to antiquity. It HELPS. There is no excuse to not be educated, ESPECIALLY now that we have this awful thing called The Internet.

23. Deeper into Movies, by Pauline Kael
More Kael. How on earth did she keep up this pace?

24. The Kremlin Ball, by Curzio Malaparte
First translated into English this year. This book is an absolute wonder. Malaparte died leaving it unfinished. Its portrait of the Bolshevik elite – the hierarchy of the Bolsheviks in 1920s Russia – putting to rest forever the LIE that these criminals were even INTERESTED in Socialism and leveling the playing field. PLEASE. It was always about putting the reins of power into the hands of a very small group. This book is grotesque, funny, a revelation. Stalin cameos, too, and his crush on a certain ballerina. I read it so fast I need to read it again.

25. Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, by Tom Wolfe
“Radical Chic” is one of the bitchiest – and truest – things I have ever read. Balls of steel to publish a piece like that. Naming names. The ridiculousness of the politically conscious social set. Black Panthers circulating at this chi-chi party. The clash of cultures. Wolfe is BRUTAL. Also, the piece is laugh-out-loud funny.

26. The Case of Comrade Tulayev, by Victor Serge
A re-read of Victor Serge’s brilliant novel about the murder of a “Comrade Tulayev,” a higher-up in the Soviet hierarchy. What it’s really about is the murder of Kirov in 1934. As Robert Conquest wrote in his book The Great Terror: “This killing [the murder of Kirov] has every right to be called the crime of the century. Over the next four years, hundreds of Soviet citizens, including the most prominent political leaders of the Revolution, were shot for direct responsibility for the assassination, and literally millions of others went to their deaths for complicity in one or another part of the vast conspiracy which allegedly lay behind it. Kirov’s death, in fact, was the keystone of the entire edifice of terror and suffering by which Stalin secured his grip on the Soviet peoples.” Serge’s book shows how that gigantic murderous conspiracy happened.

27. The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, by Olivia Laing
My second Olivia Laing, after Trip to Echo Spring. This book, about loneliness and solitude, is one of the books of the year for me. I’m a lonely person, but I also cherish solitude. Being alone doesn’t mean being lonely … except when it does. It’s the air I breathe. I live in a city. Being lonely in a city has a very particular essence. Captured in the paintings of Edward Hopper. In some of the poems of Frank O’Hara. Laing meditates on these things. She’s just amazing.

28. Double Indemnity, by James M. Cain
I never get sick of Cain’s stuff. That flat-affect voice … pure sociopathy … just brilliant.

29. Play It As It Lays, by Joan Didion
I re-read this one (maybe my 10th, 15th, time?) since I was writing it up for Sight & Sound‘s “Flick Lit” issue, an entire issue devoted to novels about Hollywood.

30. Hooked, by Pauline Kael
Can’t stop the Kael train!

31. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, by Hunter S. Thompson
I’ve been meaning to do a re-read of all of his stuff. And so I began here. It’s such an incredible book. So funny you wipe tears of laughter off your face, but also so angry you almost cringe away from it. Incredible in-the-moment political analysis, a great book about America’s politics.

32. Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years, by Diane Di Prima
I’ve been meaning to read this one for a long time, ever since Jessa Crispin recommended it back in the Book Slut days. It’s as good as she said it was. The memoir of Diane Di Prima, poet and huge player in the New York bohemian scene of the 1960s. It’s an incredible snapshot of that time, but also a poignant and piercing memoir of an Italian girl who grew up in an abusive traditional household … who was basically disowned when she got pregnant … who kept getting pregnant and kept having babies (much to her hip friends’ dismay) … But it also really makes you yearn for the New York of those days, cheap and dangerous, yes, but where artists could actually gather, not pay a lot of rent, and do their work. Those days are so dead it’s like reading about Atlantis. A wonderful book.

33. The Soccer War, by Ryszard Kapuściński
One of my favorite writers. This book was my “way in.” Highly recommended.

34. Another Day of Life, by Ryszard Kapuściński
Kapuściński talked his editors into allowing him to go to Angola to cover the civil war. This is the result. Must-read.

35. Rogue Male, by Geoffrey Household
Thank you, Charley, for recommending this book. Published in 1937, it starts with a man staring through a rifle sight at a certain world leader strutting on a private balcony, realizing how easy it would be to take him out. The world leader is unnamed. But consider the year it was published. The book has been made into films a number of times (most famously, Manhunt, by Fritz Lang). It’s a thrilling chase novel, along the lines of The Fugitive,

36. The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe
I don’t want to say it is his best, but it is the one I read first (in high school), and the one that truly swept me away. First Man, this year, was good, but there were elements in it that really bugged me, and mainly it was because Tom Wolfe’s observations about how DIFFERENT these guys were from most of us – was left out. Neil Armstrong went to the moon to deal with the death of his daughter. Stephanie Zacharek, in her review, said the movie made her feel protective of these guys, these touch taciturn guys, who were so brave, and did things most of us will never ever do. I admired much of the movie but I felt the same way.

37. When the Lights Go Down, by Pauline Kael
Once I started, I couldn’t very well stop, now could I?

38. LaBrava, by Elmore Leonard
One of my favorite Elmore Leonards. LaBrava himself … what a character! But the book is steeped in good characters and atmosphere. I love it so much.

39. Reeling, by Pauline Kael
Ibid. Idem. Exeunt.

40. Black Mischief, by Evelyn Waugh
Wow, this book is … something. It’s the only Waugh novel I hadn’t read.

41. Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood, by Karina Longworth
I read this on assignment from The LA Times, who asked me to review the book. Which I did. I thought it was great. As I said in the review, it takes the anecdotes separated into 500 separate Hollywood memoirs and puts them all into one place.

42. Interview With History, by Oriana Fallaci
Fallaci is a tough one. She went down swinging, and she went down ignominously. But this does not – or it should not – obliterate her accomplishments during her life. She was the only Western journalist to interview Khomeini twice (in the second interview, notoriously, she whipped off her head scarf). In the 70s, she traveled the world, interviewing every dictator and revolutionary who would submit to an interview. Christopher Hitchens wrote a piece about her called “The Art of the Interview” discussing how she is the prime example of holding power to account. When Henry Kissinger read the printed version of the interview he did with her, he was horrified (the interview caused a shitstorm – as her interviews often did; one even caused an international incident). Kissinger said agreeing to be interviewed by Oriana Fallaci was one of the most disastrous decisions in his career (and considering his career, that’s saying something). These are riveting interviews. She’s bold, she doesn’t give a shit about being polite, she doesn’t care about offending, she doesn’t kowtow, does not respect power at ALL, she doesn’t care about maintaining her “access.” She approaches each interview as though it will be the only chance she gets to ask these questions.

43. I Married a Communist, by Philip Roth
I read this one in Croatia. It’s amazing.

44. The Egotists: Sixteen Surprising Interviews, by Oriana Fallaci
These interviews are a mixed bag: she doesn’t just interview world leaders and politicians, but movie stars too. Dean Martin. Sean Connery. Again, there really aren’t any other interviews like this.

45. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
A short slim devastating book. There’s a reason secret copies were circulated through the Iron Curtain countries. Many people in those countries read the book and thought, “How does he know what’s going on here?”

46. Grant, by Ron Chernow
This took me a couple of months to finish, but it was well worth it. What a touching and complex figure he was.

47. Indignation, by Philip Roth
An interesting novel that takes place on a college campus. A young Jewish kid, at sea in a world of Gentile students, falling in love with a troubled suicidal young woman. Super short, I read this one in a day.

48. The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken, by Terry Teachout
Incredible. Yet another writer on this list who pisses almost everyone off, left, right, in-between. Teachout walks us through the man’s life, how he became THE commentator of the Jazz Age (even though he was a homebody who lived with his mother), how his dispatches from the Scopes Trial occurred – they’re still electrifying to read today – how vicious he could be towards the things he found absurd. He was one of those people who didn’t recognize the threat of Hitler (he wasn’t alone), who thought of him as a goofball publicity stunt (hmmm, sound familiar?), and who found himself behind the times as his life went on, a cranky conservative. It’s an interesting trajectory. One of the most popular writers of his day. Nobody can write like Mencken, NOBODY.

49. Dido, Queen of Carthage, by Christopher Marlowe
I decided after a half a year away from my original Marlowe project to go back. I love this play.

50. Ms. Found In a Bottle, by Edgar Allan Poe
Terrifying. I finished it and thought, “I am legit going to have nightmares about this story.”

51. Premature Burial, by Edgar Allan Poe
How many times do people buried alive feature in his stories? The story trembles with horror.

52. William Wilson, by Edgar Allan Poe
I love stories about doppelgangers, Dostoevsky, Joseph Conrad, both wrote great stories about doppelgangers showing up. You wonder if the narrator is making it up, or if he’s so split off that there’s really only one of him, or if there really are such things as twins running around out there wreaking havoc.

53. Eleonara, by Edgar Allan Poe
A fairy tale almost, about a perfect beautiful woman who dies and suddenly the world she lived in starts to die too. Poe was a romantic about women. They were spectral “Others” to him.

55. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, by Edgar Allan Poe
Total page-turner. There are a couple of descriptions of storms at sea which are so frightening I almost wanted to stop (a gift of his, seen in “Maelstrom” and “Ms. Found in a Bottle.”) You cannot believe how much happens to this Pym person. Nobody could ever keep up!

56. The Massacre at Paris, by Christopher Marlowe
I had never read this one before. It’s fantastic.

57. That Was Something, by Dan Callahan
My friend Dan’s first novel. This is the second book by Dan on the list, and both of them came out this year! Go, Dan! Proud of my friend! I wrote about this beautiful novel here.

58. Doctor Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe
A masterpiece.

59. Deadline Artists: America’s Greatest Newspaper Columns
I had been reading this book one piece at a time for the whole year. It’s an amazing compilation of all of these famous newspaper columnists, from Mencken to Jimmy Breslin, writing about the issues of their day, some still famous (JFK’s assassination) and some lost in the mists of time. A wonderful historical account.

60. This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald’s astonishingly assured first novel. You read some of his insights, some of his prose, realize he was 19, 20 when he wrote them, and think, “Fuck you, Scott!” as well as “My God, I will never be this good” or “At 19 I was still writing ‘OMG I think he likes me’ in my diary.” Incredible. Self-aware.

61. The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (Gonzo Papers, Volume 1), by Hunter S. Thompson
Oh, Hunter. I’m angry that you left us. I would love to hear what you have to say now. A brilliant compilation of his work. There are 3 more volumes to go, all of which I will be tackling. Nobody like him. I love his writing so much.

62. The Jew of Malta, by Christopher Marlowe
So anti-Semitic, and yet embedded within it is a critique of anti-Semitism. You want to see how it operates? Here it all is. And we sure could use a refresher course, especially now, with Neo Nazis on the move, in the government, but also with, for example, the Chicago Dykes March being disrupted into controversy because some of the marchers were “triggered” by the sight of a star of David on a flag being carried by a Jewish lesbian. Or, hello, Alice Walker. You’re far from being off the hook, liberals.

63. The Secret Place, by Tana French
I love this series so much, but have fallen behind in keeping up with it. This may be the best one. The Likeness remains my favorite, I think, but she really blew me away here with what she did, and how she did it. She structured it in a really interesting way. One section of it – the flashbacks – take place over the course of one year. But the main narrative, the police investigation, takes place over one very long day. This is very bold. French works within a genre, but she also makes up her own rules. I think she’s one of the best things going today.

63. Hooking Up, by Tom Wolfe
One of his later compilations. Written just as the Internet started to take hold, and make inroads into the mainstream. The whole Y2K thing!

64. The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides
Haunting. I love the plural narrator. It’s so intensely objectifying of these girls (one of the creepiest asides is “oral, alas”) that it becomes a commentary on objectification. How unknowable anyone is, but especially girls when seen through the prism of male desire. Just a terribly sad story.

65. And Yet…: Essays, by Christopher Hitchens
Some of these I remember reading when he was alive, on Slate, or Vanity Fair, or The Atlantic. It certainly would have been interesting to read his responses to what is happening now. There are a lot of authors included here who are so hated that people literally recoil when you say their name. Hitchens is one of those writers. That’s okay. I probably hate some of the writers you love, too.

66. Master Misery, by Truman Capote
A haunting story included in The Grass Harp collection. It’s a creepy tale about a put-upon young woman living in New York who starts to “sell her dreams,” literally, to this creepy guy in a brownstone on the East Side. You go in, tell the dude some dream you have, and he pays you. 5 bucks if it’s okay, 10 bucks if it’s a REALLY good dream. He doesn’t pay you if the dream is bad, or if it’s a dream about him. Seems rather innocuous until … it’s not. There’s one paragraph that is almost a direct steal from the final section of “The Dead” … an unavoidable comparison … but I’ve always liked this story.

67. The Way Men Act: A Novel, by Elinor Lipman
I am going to do a re-read of all of her books in 2019. I started here, with the first one of hers I read. She is such a good writer. So funny, but there’s always a strong social/cultural critique in her books, too. A modern comedy-of-manners writer. We don’t have many of them anymore. I highly recommend her stuff.

68. The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain
A favorite. Slim and brutal. With the hottest sex scene in any book ever, and it’s only 13 words:

I had to have her, if I hung for it.
I had her.

69. Waiting for Lefty, by Clifford Odets
I haven’t read this play in years. My God, it brought me back. It’s like my whole life is in this play. Every dream I’ve had, every goal I’ve cherished … is here. What Odets represents. What The Group Theatre represented to me. The revelation that is his language and how that changed how I thought about acting during my crucial actor growth spurt, when I was 15/16. The way it starts mid-argument. “You’re so wrong I ain’t laughing.” Brilliant. I know vast sections of it by heart (the Joe and Edna scene, the “grapefruit” monologue, the final scene – it all came back to me. I was reciting it out loud AS I read it). “Stormbirds of the working class.” Damn you, Clifford, I get goosebumps every time.

Previously

2017 books read
2016 books read
2015 books read
2014 books read
2013 books read
2012 books read
2011 books read
2010 books read
2009 books read
2008 books read
2007 books read
2006 books read
2005 books read

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7 Responses to 2018 Books Read

  1. Bill Wolfe says:

    Thanks for bringing the two Ellen Willis collections to my attention. I always enjoyed her assays in the Voice, and her pieces on Creedence and Janis Joplin in the Rolling Stone History of Rock and Roll have stayed with me for many years. I look forward to reading these two books.

    • sheila says:

      Bill – you’re welcome!! I’m so glad to call these two to your attention.

      Yes, her Janis piece is just epic!

      I also appreciated the couple of essays on Elvis in the collection – she saw him live at Madison Square Garden and also flew to Las Vegas to see him live there. She appreciated him, and also brought a welcome perspective to what those live shows – and the jumpsuits and capes and all the rest – were all about. She didn’t just dismiss it.

      The second collection is really deep – covers 40 years of writing – and half the time it’s bringing up feminist wars almost lost to the mists of time – but between you and me (as I say this on a public blog) – her perspective was so refreshing to read, especially this year.

      Happy new year!

  2. Melissa Sutherland says:

    Sheila, Cheever. Read him years ago and feel I would have a COMPLETELY different take on him now. I’m also beyond the age he writes about and I read him before I reached that age, or perhaps almost in the middle. I can’t remember exactly. He was such a complicated man (cif. Susan Cheever). [I may have used the wrong citation thing-y there, which is not good for a retired copy editor/proofreader!] Oh, the things I have forgotten! Anyway, I just started your list and may write to you again, depending on where you go with it. Even when I haven’t read some of the stuff that you love (i.e., Marlowe) I enjoy your take on all of it.

    • sheila says:

      Cheever is so freakin depressing – and I was reading him at the same time I was doing my Bergman marathon for a piece I was working on. YIKES.

      But he’s such a wonderful writer. It’s interesting how alcohol is involved in every single story – although not central. But it’s clearly so much a part of his world he couldn’t even imagine leaving it out. I mean, “The Swimmer” wouldn’t have happened if that guy wasn’t drunk and filled with himself and liquid courage.

      It’s really rather amazing and it was one of my most gratifying reading experiences of the year.

      Thanks so much for reading, and happy new year!

  3. melissa says:

    You post book reviews, I buy books :-) I love how you talk about everything, and your books read list give me good book fodder for the upcoming year!

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