March 2020 books read

  • Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel, 2014. I love post-apocalyptic fiction, and the coronavirus pandemic was just picking up in the US when I finished this. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but it was overshadowed by my memories of Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play, which I saw in 2015 (with my friend Stephanie as Bart) and was looking forward to seeing again at UMass this spring. Looks like they’ll do it in the fall – fingers crossed! I might re-read this after seeing the play again, as post-pandemic it will have new resonance. I read it fast, and I’m writing this on 5/2/2020 when the beginning of March feels like it was several years ago.
  • Emma – Jane Austen, 1815. Re-read in conjunction with the film, directed by friend-of-my-brother Autumn de Wilde. The film was amazing (saw it opening weekend right before everything shut down), stolen by Mrs. Elton (Tanya Reynolds) even though there wasn’t nearly as much about Maple Grove as in the book.
  • The Mouse and His Child – Russell Hoban, 1967. Comfort re-reading but also one of my top ten novels of all time. Description of Crow, the director of the Caws of Art avant-garde theater company: “A tall, well-set-up bird, he wore his great black, glossy wings in the manner of a cloak thrown carelessly over his shoulders…” Someday I’ll write a long essay about this amazing book.
  • Medallion Status: True Stories from Secret Rooms – John Hodgman, 2019. Enjoyable but I gobbled it down and don’t remember much now. Hodgman used to have a summer place near here and there were some local references which I always get a kick out of. He’s a good writer.
  • The Ends of the World: Supervolcanoes, Lethal Oceans, and the Search for Past Apocalypses – Peter Brannen, 2017 – quotes pulled, tbd
  • Krapp’s Last Tape – Samuel Beckett, 1958 – quotes pulled, tbd
  • Housekeeping – Marilynne Robinson, 1980 – quotes pulled, tbd
  • Envious Casca – Georgette Heyer, 1941. This is a long-time favorite comfort re-read, but I like it less each time I read it. For some reason the romance used to be very compelling to me but is no longer. Still great characters but not as much humor as my favorite Heyers (on the whole she’s shrunk on me as an author as well…)
  • Worzel Gummidge – Barbara Euphan Todd, 1936. I had one of this series as a child but I don’t think it was this one – none of the other title descriptions look exactly right either, though. A strange book, but the idea of the TV Gummidge having “interchangeable turnip, mangelwurzel and swede heads” is even weirder…
  • Talking Turkey – Hilary Caws-Elwitt, unpublished mss (2014). Re-read my own book (middle-grade animal fantasy) when I had insomnia. It holds up!
  • Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen – Hannah Howard, 2018. Couldn’t put it down but I didn’t exactly enjoy it – too much self-hatred. I do love the way she writes about cheese.
  • Souls – Joanna Russ, 1982. I come back to this novella whenever I feel despair about the world, and it comforts me in a weird dark way.
  • The Iron Giant: A Children’s Story in Five Nights – Ted Hughes, 1968. Read frequently in childhood, and some of the images were burned into my brain. but I probably hadn’t revisited it in a couple of decades (not since the terrific Brad Bird movie, which was, gulp, 1989). It’s as wonderful as I remembered.

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