Another month where I didn’t read much. I think this is going to be a theme over the next three years of my PhD. But, I did read something, which is better than nothing.
A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin (short stories)
I normally don’t like these very mini Penguin Classics because they’re just not long enough for me to get properly into them, but I really liked this. In particular, the title story (which comes at the end), is something I normally wouldn’t like but I loved. It’s basically just a kind of quiet joy in spending a day just for you, for what you want. It ends before she goes home, and so you never see the guilt that will probably come, or the questions about where that money went. It’s just joyful, and it’s great. If you ever need incentive to Treat Yo Self, just read this one story, it only takes 5/10 minutes and then you’ll be off to the theatre in no time.
The Dumb House by John Burnside (novel)
Although the plot is completely different, this reminded me a lot of Lolita. The narrator of The Dumb House is also pretty horrifying and unreliable and trying to convince his audience that he is unquestionably in the right. The writing, although not quite as beautiful as Nabokov’s, is sharp and eloquent and the tone is perfect. The blurb is a little misleading, as it makes it sound as though it’s mostly about an experiment he conducts on his own children, which only happens in the final section. It’s more about him as a character and narrator. I chose this for a book club (before I’d read it), and I have a feeling some people are going to hate it, but there’s so much to discuss I think it’s going to be a good one. Sharply written, compelling, and horrifying – one of my favourites of the year so far.
Bi The Way by MJ Wallace (graphic novel, non-fiction)
This is a comic about MJ’s realisation that she’s bi, while in a long-term relationship with a man. The latter part of that sentence might not seem relevant, but it is – so many bi people struggle with their identity because of not feeling ‘queer enough’, and relationship status being conflated with sexuality. A lot of what she talks about is stuff I’ve felt myself, so it’s a very affirming kind of story. There’s also a bunch of stuff in there about being a good ally to bi people, or how to react to someone coming out, so it’s also a good book to quietly push into the hands of straight (or some LGBT) people who don’t quite get it. The back cover also has a list of excellent bi puns. I am always here for puns.
Currently reading: By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept by Elizabeth Smart