Thursday, June 18, 2009

From My Bookshelf: Recent Reads

I'm pleased to report that my most recent reading includes books from each genre I try to deal with on this blog (and incorporate into my own writing practice): fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

As far as fiction goes, I am currently about halfway through John Updike's last story collection, My Father's Tears. I've been happy to discover stories "new" to me (like the one that opens the book, "Morocco") and I've been equally pleased to revisit ones that caught my attention back when they appeared in The Atlantic ("Varieties of Religious Experience") or The New Yorker ("Delicate Wives").

And I'm still thinking about Jessica Handler's memoir, Invisible Sisters, which I finished several days ago. It's a very sad book (the publisher's Web site sums it up as "a compelling, lyrical memoir of a girl who must navigate the loss of her two sisters before she can discover herself").

Finally, I'm making my way through The Book of Questions, by Pablo Neruda (translated by William O'Daly), and published in a wonderful bilingual edition by Copper Canyon Press, which I was lucky enough to receive as a recent gift. I am enjoying this slim volume so much. And while I'm trying to extract some poetry-writing lessons from it, I can't help being caught up in all the vivid phrases with another thought. And that is--wouldn't this make a great title? Or, at the very least, a prompt? Examples: "Imprisoned in One of Petrarch's Sonnets," "The Pale Tears of the Sky," or "The Hospital Garden."

What are you reading right now?


B.J. Epstein said...

Whoever gave you that Neruda book as a gift must have chosen very carefully and thoughtfully. ;-)
Thanks for sharing your lastest reads, Erika. As for me, I have a big pile of books checked out from the library, but I am not that excited about any of them. Maybe it's me. Instead, I'm rereading a Bill Bryson book for some laughs and looking forward to starting Guy Deutscher's "The Unfolding of Language."

Best wishes,

Erika D. said...

"Whoever gave you that Neruda book as a gift must have chosen very carefully and thoughtfully. ;-)"

Indeed! Thank you so much!

Katia Shtefan said...

If you really like Neruda, check out Red Poppy at It's a non-profit set up to create a documentary about Neruda, publish his biography, and translate his works into English. To see our blog on Neruda’s literary activism, go to

kathy whilden said...

I have been reading all of Diana Athill's books.i have just discovered her writing and am happy to have this new writer to read.

Chryselle said...

I just finished the very inspiring 'Three cups of tea' by Greg Mortenson about his efforts to build schools for girls in rural Pakistan & Afghanistan.

Started Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 'The Autumn of the Patriach', but the lack of paragraphs is making my eyes bleary! It's just one unbroken block of text in every chapter.

Erika D. said...

I love what you're all sharing. Keep the comments coming!

Jenni said...

Now that I have a couple of deadlines behind me (yea!) I'm ready to pick up some summer reading.

At long last, I'm reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez which I'm finding astonishing and beautiful and crazy. Tomorrow I'll start The Motion of the Ocean by Janna Cawrse Esary about her honeymoon on a small boat (for two years!). And I'm promising myself that I'll also read about writing. I just bought Sage Cohen's book on writing poetry, Writing the Life Poetic so perhaps that will be next in the queue. I may need to pick up the Neruda :)