People always ask me about new books, and the only things I have to say, generally, are things I’ve read about them somewhere or other. Of course I should read more recently published stuff, but there’s so much great writing, vetted by time and critics, that I haven’t yet read.
I finally just read The Sportswriter. I’m almost sure I’ve lied to at least one person about reading that book. It was great. Everyone’s right. Isn’t that nice? I live in a state of constant, if low-grade, disappointment, because I let myself be swayed by the hype surrounding something. The fried chicken at Redhead? Totally good, but it would have been better if I hadn’t been expecting it to be the best ever omg. I’m sure there are a million lessons about attachment and mindfulness there.
Now I’m reading Joy William’s Escapes (1990). She is new to me, but a lot of people I like like her, so I went for it. It’s excellent. Again, I trust the people who like her, but they also don’t get lunaticy about her, so my expectations were actually pretty low.
This is not the best sentence in the book, but it really struck me:
“For hours on a Sunday they would wallow in sloughs and rumble and pitch across stony creek beds, and then they would wash and wax the truck or, as James, the boyfriend would say, “dazzle the hog.”
This sentence is like a cross-country trip. You go so many different places.
You know what else struck me? The five blurbs on the back of the book are all from men, three of whom are Raymond Carver, Harold Brodkey or William Gass, and they are loving Williams – “the most gifted writer of her generation.” Way to show the adoration, mens!
The book is still excellent, but it’s beginning to depress me.