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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lisa Howorth: IMG So Many Books, So Many Writers



I'm not a bookseller, but I'm married to one, and Square Books is a family. And we all know about families and how hard it is to disassociate... Continue »

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Customer Comments

h2oetry has commented on (12) products.

Freedom: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen
Freedom: A Novel

h2oetry, January 2, 2011

This book does not need anymore attention than it has received already, but it has deserved the praise. I think there were 4 or 5 sentences that were cringe worthy, which reminded me that he is human, and that the rest of the book is that spectacular. This is a must read, and a must re-read. You already know about it, so I won't blurb the plot.

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Lost in the Funhouse (Anchor Literary Library) by John Barth
Lost in the Funhouse (Anchor Literary Library)

h2oetry, January 2, 2011

John Barth is hit and miss for me, although he is mostly a hit. Sort of like juggling with bowling balls -- it's like, okay, I see what you are doing -- I'm impressed -- and I might be able to do that if I tried for awhile, but I'm not going to, thank you. Once you figure out essentially what Barth is doing, his writing is incredibly enjoyable. Lost in the Funhouse is Barth at his best. His humor is on point and the fact that he makes the reader work a bit means more appreciation, and much payoff upon completion. This is a series of connected short stories with echoed, developed themes that eventually (continually?) circles back upon itself. once upon a time there was a story that began

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Europe Central by William T. Vollmann
Europe Central

h2oetry, January 2, 2011

How many dense 800+ page novels can I get through without hitting my head against a wall? Not sure, but here's another. Vollmann reigns supreme among living writers. I can't think of another American literature writer more prolific than Vollmann, and I'm going all the way back to the country's founding.

A historic novel set in early 20th century central Europe, EC depicts the mindset of many people (most are historically famous) put in moralistic binds during warfare. A modern War and Peace, essentially.

His treatment of composer Dmitri Shostakovich is standout. I've never read such beautiful prose describing music anywhere. If it were any more beautiful, it would actually be the music he is describing. Shostakovich was easily my favorite "character" in the novel.

The book makes use of plenty of source material, so it is essentially true history, only Vollmann employs artistic characterization to put a compelling narrative at work. A book of this magnitude seems like it would take decades upon decades upon decades to put together. Vollmann must have access to some of the best stimulants around.

At times it's difficult connecting the characters - some are brief and have seemingly no connection to others - but that's the thing. Each portion is meant to stand on its own, offering the worldview of that particular German/Russian person. I preferred the Russian parts of the book more than the German (which surprised me).

Europe Central succeeds in showing what it was like to live in a tumultuous time, and the difficulties humans have in trying to connect or disconnect with one another. I'd like to read this book again at some point, and think you'd be well to do the same.

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The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America by Joe Posnanski
The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America

h2oetry, January 2, 2011

Posnanski writes passionately about a subject in which he's immersed himself in for years now: baseball in general, and Buck O'Neil specifically. Buck O'Neil is one of the most optimistic individuals I've ever read about in non-fiction works. A former Negro Leagues player and manager, O'Neill carried the stories and legends of those years around the country to fans and the curious. He'd constantly correct those who misunderstood what the Negro Leagues were like and tried to offer the wonders of the game, which reflects his true love for the national pastime. The book offers a great glimpse into a sport loved and loathed by Americans. I great read for fans and 'meh's alike.

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Point Omega by Don DeLillo
Point Omega

h2oetry, January 2, 2011

In short? It's about a secret war advisor and a young filmmaker.

Well before the book graced shelves, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin coined the term Omega Point, described as a maximum level of complexity and consciousness towards which the universe appears to be evolving.

The novel records the exchanges between a retired academic, Elster, and a documentarian, Jim. Elster, at the end of his storied career as a scholar and wartime philosophizer for the U.S. government, retreats to the desert to enter his final stage of personal consciousness and introversion – his own Omega Point.

Finley’s goal is to persuade Elster to make a one-take film with Elster as its single character – “Just a man and a wall.”
The novel’s framed by scenes of an art installation by Douglas Gordon, shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2006, entitled “24 Hour Psycho.” In it, Hitchcock's movie is slowed down to complete a single showing over 24 hours. This stands as a reference point for the novel’s many meditations on time. “Point Omega” is small yet intense novel that emphasizes that the important things in life are not the big sweeping events, but the small moments and micro-moments that we live. The type of things that make time stand still.

Perhaps he presents his ideas in such a condensed format because he wants us to slow down and read them again. You can read this in a day, but when you do, slow down and really pay attention to DeLillo, I think you will be rewarded. He's easily one of my favorite living authors.

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