First line: “There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck.”
Preoccupation with money is at the heart of “The Rocking-Horse Winner.” A young boy grows up in a household where the family lives beyond their means, and becomes obsessed with money, luck, and gambling. The ending of the story is moralistic and definitely points to the style of another age, but money as the root of all evil is a theme that never lacks relevance, and this is a great entry point to Lawrence’s shorter works.
You can read “The Rocking Horse Winner” here.
For another week, this is not a review.
I started this blog to talk about books, but also to review them, and I know it’s been quite awhile since I’ve done that. Basically, I’ve been going through a move and a lot of personal upheavals. It’s not that I’m not reading–on the contrary, being stressed out means I’m reading like crazy, going through a few books a week. But they’re not the sorts of books I necessarily want to review or talk about in depth.
So for one more week, this is not a review.
I figure maybe it’s a good time to talk shop. I started this blog almost three months ago now. I’ve made 24 posts so far, and I enjoy writing, but I’m still not sure how to attract readers, or get you all to talk to me. There are 24 posts, and essentially only one ever gets looked at. It’s the 4th I made. I’m considering deleting it just to see if I can get some accurate stats for once.
Blogging can be a ridiculous endeavor, spewing opinions into the void of the internet. I want to keep doing it, and I want to get better and become someone worth reading. I want to know what you guys are looking for. There are so many types of book reviewers, and book-oriented blogs out there. As readers, what keeps you coming back?
Hopefully next week there will be an actual review in this space. I have short stories laid out for a few weeks, it’s just the rest of the content that’s tripping me up at the moment. But I definitely don’t want to be one of those blogs that updates for a few months and then disappears. I want to be here for a good long while. I know there are things I have to get better at (commenting on other people’s blogs, keeping up with my reading), but I really am striving to make this the best blog I can, and I hope if you are reading this you find something here to enjoy.
I’m a big fan of making playlists. I make them to fit different moods, to accompany different chores, for every short story I write, for tv shows and movies and characters I love, and, every once in awhile, for a book.
I first discovered Gillian Flynn last September, and promptly kicked myself for missing her before. She very quickly became one of my favorite authors for her creation of dark, unlikeable, but ever-compelling characters, her punch-in-the-gut prose, and her tense and twisted plots. So I decided to make a playlist inspired by Gone Girl.
You can stream this mix on 8tracks, and the full playlist is below the cut.
First line: “The Thames is a filthy beast: it winds through London like a snake, or a sea serpent.”
There are many wonderful Neil Gaiman stories to choose from, and I’m sure he’s someone I’ll feature with some regularity here. This, I think, is one of his newest, a darkly evocative little tale of woe from The Guardian’s water stories feature. Perfect reading for a rainy day.
You can find “Down to a Sunless Sea” here.
I’m in the middle of a move (fun times), so instead of a substantive post this week, let’s judge some covers. These are covers that have grabbed my interest and make me want to pick up the book before even knowing what’s inside.
Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I’ve heard good things from this one, and I love the typography, the cutout images, and the colors of this cover.
The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty. This one’s been on my list for awhile, mainly because I absolutely love Louise Brooks. Even if the novel’s not really about her (as I understand, she’s kind of a side character): put Louise Brooks on your cover, and I’ll probably, eventually, buy your book.
The House Girl by Tara Conklin, Again I really love the colors and the silhouette.
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. Kitschy title? Check. Quirky typeface? Check. OWLS? Check. (if you could see my currently-in-boxes apartment, I promise you’d understand.) David Sedaris once told me to go to hell, I absolutely love his essays, and I can’t wait to read this book.
The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates. I have never ever read Joyce Carol Oates. It’s a stunning omission and I think she’s due for First Impressions treatment. I love the painting detail on this cover, and the colors, and the simple typeface.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. This cover is AMAZING. It might be my favorite cover of 2013, and we’re not even halfway through the year. The starkness of the cut-outs, the central focus on that brilliant letter, the subtle pops of color: this is cover design done right.
It’s the most wonderful day of the year, Mad Men Sunday. For the past two or three years, it’s been the same. I’m ambivalent about the return of Mad Men, until I’m not. I claim I’m over this stupid gut-wrenching show, until I’m clearly not. It’s still one of my favorite things in the universe, and the fact that we only have two years (twenty six episodes! Gah!) left makes me really, really sad.
In honor of my favorite day, I’d planned on a story that put me in mind of Mad Men’s worldview. Then I couldn’t find it in full-text online. I came up with a second story that fit the bill. Which also wasn’t online. So this one’s gonna require a little homework from you guys. You may even have to go to a library. Hey, life can’t always be easy.
John Cheever’s “Torch Song” can be found in The Stories of John Cheever. Though set far before 1960s Manhattan, in the immediate post-WWII period, it’s characters put me in mind of the early years of the show. Also, there’s a character called Joan Harris. How’s that for coincidence? It’s probably the name that immediately drew my eye to the parallels, but Cheever’s Joan Harris does have a lot in common with our Joanie.
J.D. Salinger’s “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut,” found in Nine Stories, reads like Betty Draper meeting up with one of her old school chums and going on a roaring bender, while Don’s off running around California. It, too, is set much earlier than the sixties, but I think a lot of the early days of Mad Men in particular is about hearkening back to a “golden age” that never really existed, so the message still feels relevant.
Go track down those stories, because they’re both definitely worth the effort. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with an Old Fashioned and my dvds, and I’m going to spend the rest of my day wishing I was Peggy Olson.
It’s time for the second update to my Nebula finalists reading challenge. In this one I’ll be talking about Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon and Caitlin R. Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl.