Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Salon--Book coveting

The Sunday Salon.com


Sunday here in Los Angeles is bathed in an eerie light, from the sun struggling through the smoke from several wildfires burning nearby. For me, weird light makes for a weird mood, and I never quite know what to make of a day that is strangely lit. Perhaps I'll read...

I had some time to read the New York Times Book Review, and right on the front page was Jonathan Lethem's review of Lorrie Moore's new book, A Gate at the Stairs. I've been waiting for this book without even knowing it. I've loved Moore's writing since I read her first collection of short stories, Self-Help, some twenty years ago. I went on to read and also love Like Life and Birds of America. I'm not quite as big a fan of her novels as her short stories, but I hear this one is good. And though I knew she hadn't published anything in awhile (11 years--who knew?), once I heard that she had a new book coming out, I realized I couldn't wait to read it.

The review is good, good enough to make me want to order this book now, hardback price be damned. Lethem mentions that he only knows one person who doesn't like Moore's writing, calling it too "punny". And then he goes on to say, "As for the puns, they seem to me less an eagerness to entertain than a true writerly obsession. Moore is an equal-opportunity japester: heroes and villains both crack wise with Chandleresque vivacity, so you can't use cleverness as a moral index. The wrinkly recursiveness of her language seems lodged at the layer of consciousness itself, where Moore demands readers' attention to the innate thingliness of words. "

He also says, "On finishing A Gate at the Stairs I turned to the reader nearest to me and made her swear to read it immediately (well, the dog was between us, but she doesn't read much, and none of what I recommend). I might even urge it on my dissenting friend." That's a good enough recommendation for me!

Maybe I can convince my book group to read this one with me.

16 comments:

ANovelMenagerie said...

We could see the Azusa flames all the way from the shoreline in Huntington Beach yesterday! Eerie!

Sheri

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

I'm a big Lorrie Moore fan (like you, more of the short stories than the novels) and cannot wait to read this one. I might have to buy it in hardback, too.

Stay safe with the fires. Thinking of you and everyone out that way.

Literary Feline said...

It's going to be such a bad fire season. There aren't any fires near me yet, but I thought I could smell a hint of smoke in the air the other night. It was probably my overactive imagination from all the news reports lately.

I haven't read anything by Lorrie Moore, although I've seen mention of her book Birds of America. I'll have to add her to my wish list. I'll be anxious to know what you think of her new book!

Have a great week and stay out of that smoky air!

Gentle Reader said...

Sheri--I know, isn't it crazy? I could see a huge smoke cloud from the "Station" fire--it looked like a huge mushroom cloud coming from the Hollywood sign!

Melissa--I do love her short stories, and this novel is getting great reviews. So much for my book budget this month!

Wendy--I've been smelling smoke on and off, mostly in the mornings. We're in an urban neighborhood far from the hills, so we're never in danger from wildfires, but I really feel for the people who live near these big fires. It must be so scary!

I really love Lorrie Moore's short stories, and definitely recommend them. Birds of America is a really good book :)

Bybee said...

What a great combo...Jonathan Lethem reviewing Lorrie Moore. I'm excited about her new book. 11 years is too long between books.

Gentle Reader said...

Bybee--Exactly what I thought--great combo, Lethem reviewing Moore! Great minds think alike :)

litlove said...

I do hope you are safe where you are, and that the fires will be kept under good control. I'll bet it feels weird and disquieting. Hugs to you.

I'm a Lorrie Moore fan, although I've only read her novels. Oddly enough, Anagrams, her first one, I read in French! But I thought it was marvellous. I'll definitely be looking out for the new novel, although I suspect it might take a little longer to come out over here.

Gentle Reader said...

litlove--we're very safe, as we don't live in the hills, but in the "flats", in an urban area. But we're surrounded by hills, can see and smell smoke all day, and hear reports of evacuations, houses burned, and firefighters' lives lost, so it's all very distressing. The perils of living in a Mediterranean climate, with a long, dry summer.

I loved Anagrams, but it must have been strange to read in French. I'm so fascinated by how the mind processes more than one language. I'd be interested to hear how the nuances of Moore's writing translated in French, as she is definitely one for using puns, and has such a particular style.

Stefanie said...

I am glad you are safe from the fires. My sister lives in the Valley and my sister-in-law lives in Palmdale. Both safe places but still it must be stressful with the smoke and all the reports. I hope it gets under control soon!

Jen said...

yes! let's read this for book club! was going to order anyway.

Jen said...

also want to read inherent vice...which do you think is better for book club? xo

Gentle Reader said...

Stefanie--I'm glad your loved ones live in safe places, too. Yes, it's stressful just having the community go through it. I'll be happy when it cools off and we get our "marine layer" of clouds back :)

Jen--I thought about teh Lorrie Moore for book club, too. I hear the Pynchon is not as good as some of his other stuff. The critics compare it to Vineland, which I actually read and liked many years ago, because of its irreverent, skewed portrait of California life. Maybe because it's "Pynchon light", that might make it better for book club, because it's probably more accessible than his other work, and we're less likely to get bogged down!

Nadia said...

Hope you and your family and friends are safe from those fires. Crikey! That is scary stuff and I can totally get that the atmosphere is a bit weird. Fingers crossed that the fires remain under control.

With regards to Lorrie Moore I was fortunate as an undergrad to get to hear her read from one of her texts (Birds of America) and found her writing to be very interesting and quite good. I've liked her work ever since and can't wait to check out her newest book. Cheers to a great post!

Gentle Reader said...

Nadia--Thanks! We're quite safe here in the flat part of LA, but it is smoky and of course it's been terrible for the people who have been directly affected. I was also fortunate enough to hear Lorrie Moore read, too--also when Birds of America came out. It was a great reading. And I can't wait to read this new book, too!

Dorothy W. said...

I've never read Lorrie Moore, but I've been hearing such good things about her lately, I'd like to try. I might start with something earlier, though, rather than reading the new one. Birds of America might be a good place to begin.

Gentle Reader said...

Dorothy--Yes, see if you like Birds of America. I would have to recommend reading her short stories first anyway. Let me know what you think!