July 25th, 2018

book talk // the gate.

In The Gate, Natsume Sōseki manages to elevate the banal circuitousness of daily life into something transcendent that caused me to question my understanding of happiness, self-contentment, and taking control of one’s own life.

Sosuke and Oyome have spent their adult lives living with their heads down, guilty and filled with a self-imposed shame. They take so much of what appears to be in actuality random chance onto their own

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July 4th, 2018

book talk // japanese june.

I am lucky. I teach, therefore I get summers off, therefore I can set arbitrary reading goals for myself. This summer, I decided to take on the bookstagram-inspired idea of #japanesejune — essentially reading a pile of translated Japanese literature. I didn’t set a numeric goal, but I ended up reading ten total books in June, six of them were Japanese fiction. I also used this goal as an opportunity

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June 20th, 2018

book talk // kudos.

When I closed the cover to Kudos, I also reached the end of Rachel Cusk’s creative trilogy — or, perhaps to call it a trilogy is misleading, really it’s a reinvention of the form itself. The books flow together into one continuing conversation; they are one. Cusk herself has referred to this as a “project” and, to me, that makes sense. It’s something else entirely, though I don’t presume to

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May 24th, 2018

book talk // love and ruin.

This book centers around the life of Martha (Marty) Gellhorn — it chronicles her journalistic rise, beginning with the months following a tepid reception of her first novel, What Mad Pursuit (I read a bit about the novel here, where it was described as the “futile lapping of a surgeless lake, the procession and recession of climax and anti-climax, fraught with emptiness”). After a failed love affair and a

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April 27th, 2018

book talk // audiobooks.

Let’s talk audiobooks.

For years, I assumed that audiobooks were “cheating.” I suppose I was mostly thinking in terms of the page count, or my Goodreads challenge — I wouldn’t count a podcast in my overall book count, but I also wouldn’t count an article in the New Yorker or a single short story collected in an anthology. I will also wholly admit that my English professors would never have

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April 16th, 2018

book talk // circe.

“Later, years later, I would hear a song made of our meeting. I was not surprised by the portrait of myself, the proud witch undone before the hero’s sword, kneeling and begging for mercy. Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime for poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.”

Circe by Madeline Miller is a feminist retelling of an ancient story.

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April 11th, 2018

book talk // transit.

Rachel Cusk’s Transit picks up the thread where Outline left off. Outline told the story of a woman, Faye, teaching a creative writing class in Greece, post-divorce; Transit roots itself more in reality and less in that dream-like vacation mindset. There are no yachts or plane rides or fabulous dinner venues, only the “trolls” downstairs who complain about her home renovations. I’d say, overall, the setting is far more domestic.

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February 21st, 2018

book talk // the perfect nanny.

What makes a thriller? In my opinion, it’s fast pacing, exploitative scenarios (there will be an obsession, probably an affair, ultimately a murder), and a generically accessible title.

Aside from the title, The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani is none of those things. Therefore, anyone referring to The Perfect Nanny as the “French answer to Gone Girl” is doing Slimani a distinct disservice.

The novel opens with two simple lines:

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February 5th, 2018

book talk // when to stop.

Once I crack the spine of a book, any book, I feel obligated to read it to completion, a compulsion to attain the ending. Luckily, I am a fairly good judge of my own taste and tend to choose books that make this less of an obligation and more of a pleasure. But, sometimes, I choose duds. And still, I will slog through. Usually, this creates a blockage in

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January 22nd, 2018

book talk // the tiger’s daughter.

I love fantasy novels. However, I am rather particular in my taste. I don’t enjoy the monotony of endless battles or aggressive male tones. I seek, much like I do with my literary fiction, a story that creates a mood, builds an interesting world, and explores characterization. I found that in The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera.

The Tiger’s Daughter is “the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa

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