I am more or less on pace to meet my goal of reading 25 books this year having finished another 2 in February, which makes 4 for the year. In February, I read Julie Otsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic, which was the One Book One Philadelphia selection for this year, and McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern #13: An Assorted Sampler of North American Comic Drawings, Strips, and Illustrated Stories, etc.
I liked, but did not love The Buddha in the Attic. I appreciated the various stories about a group of young Japanese women who are married off and sent to the United States to live with their never-before-seen husbands. Beginning early last century, the tales trace the women’s lives into the World War II era. The stories are interesting and some of the language is beautiful, but I found that the first person plural technique made it difficult to become emotionally attached or interested in any particular character. Luckily the book is short otherwise this approach would have been even more off-putting.
I did enjoy the McSweeney’s collection. It provides an interesting selection of comic drawings, etc, from artists such as R. Crumb, Daniel Clowes, Bud Fisher, and Chris Ware.It also contains essays from Ware, John Updike, and Chip Kidd, among others. As someone who has had only a tangential interest in these forms before, this anthology provided a great sampling of different artists using a variety of style. Some of the selections were clearly a section of a larger work and felt out of context, but, overall, the works work interesting and entertaining.
I also finished reading the Spring 2012 issue of Arts & Letters, which I don’t count toward my goal but I’m also trying to get caught up on my pile of unread literary magazines and want to keep track of how I’m doing with those as well.
So far this year, I’ve read:
- Anathem, Neal Stephenson
- Netherland, Joseph O’Neill
- The Buddha in the Attic
- McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern #13
- Arts & Letters, Spring 2012