Sunday, November 27, 2011

Recent books: Squirrels and Knights

My recent reads reflect a little bit of reader fatigue... I got a little bit discouraged with my last batch (well, Everything Is Illuminated, mostly), so this time I read something funny and something completely different.  I'm thankful I have a little bit of time during my brief Winter Break to read a few things just for fun.

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

I picked this book up in a tiny act of protest against the reading list I created for myself.  I didn't really enjoy a couple of my recent (more serious) reads, so I wanted to read something funny.  As usual, Sedaris didn't disappoint.  Though the reviews for this book are not as great, I totally enjoyed it.  Sure, it's crude.  But it's funny and sometimes it hit really close to home.  Sedaris has a way of tapping into personalities that we all know--the fact that he manages to give these personalities to animals doesn't seem to matter much.  They seem so familiar and so perfectly... awkward.

My recommendation: If you don't mind lots of crude humor or language, it's a good (quick) funny read. Go for it.

The Real Life of Sebastian Knight by Vladimir Nabokov

This book has been on my to-read list for a long time.  You'd think I was crazy if I told you how I came to discover it, but in addition to finding it through that crazy blog and Google-searching, I came to find that Nabokov is also a synesthete.  Of course that made me want to read his books.  I don't meet that many people who have my special brand of crazy.

This book was good.  It was a pretty straightforward read--kind of a mock detective/ biography story where the narrator is trying to piece together parts of his (dead) half-brother's life.  It's not a mystery, necessarily, but more like the story of someone trying to write a biography.  In the process the narrator mocks another biographer and critiques his methods.  It ends up being pretty self-referential, as a lot of the commentary is about books or the fictional author's books, and really, also, about books in general.  It also had an ending that I didn't anticipate and it left me wondering about things I'd taken for granted throughout the rest of the book.  That's always good for me.  It's probably a little more academic than some people would like, but I enjoyed it.  I'll be reading more of Nabokov's work soon for school, I think.

My recommendation: An interesting read for people who are interested in fiction and the nature of its construction. So... I'm sure that's only like one other person out there, but have at it!

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