Kathy Acker and Jhumpa Lahiri round out our week's must-reads.
Another week, another batch of books to add to your must-read list! Fret-not, with winter break around the corner, getting through the list will be a total breeze, and if not, there's always next year!
I'm Very Into You: correspondence 1995-1996. This intimate epistolary story is comprised of emails, but emails before email became less novelty than utility. Long emails, like letters, because people were still writing letters and email just made it faster. Kathy Acker likes McKenzie Wark. She thinks McKenzie Wark might like her back. The halting, at times tragic, nature of communicating with a new lover has never been better illustrated. I feel so grateful these two big brains let us in on their secret selves."
I tend to read books slowly. I put them down often, jump from title to title, always privileging the exigencies of everyday life over the pull of a fictive world. Not so with Interpreter of Maladies, the first short story collection to win a Pulitzer, by Jhumpa Lahiri. The stories' meditate on the experiences of diasporic Indian families. Each one is masterfully brief, and crafted from beautifully terse sentences that make my heart jump. My favorite of the nine stories that make up the collection is "Sexy." In it, a seven-year-old boy, Rohin, through his innocent yet deeply felt observation, drives his baby sitter to give up a forbidden romance.
Continuing with my theme of randy ladies of the early 20th Century, I want to recommend a biography by Nancy Milford of the prize-winning poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay, called Savage Beauty. It does deep literary criticism of Millay's poetry, which was groundbreaking in its time. It also does not skimp on the salacious details of Millay's love-life—she never believed in monogamy, and had scores of affairs with men and women. She had an open marriage several decades before Dan Savage popularized the term "monogamish," and Millay had intense affairs with the full knowledge and support of her husband. Come for the highbrow lit chat, stay for the naughty gossip.