This year is starting off pretty well, aside from the fact that I’ve only completed two books so far. Nonetheless, I’m surprised by the amount of bandwidth I’ve retained for leisure perusing these days, what with all that’s been going on in my personal/work life. (All great things, honestly!) Still, there’s no telling whether I’ll meet my reading mark, but I’m going to try.
Much of the work I’ve read lately have been ARCs of books I’ve been dying to get physicals of, and the same seems to be true for this month’s reading list, which stars a forthcoming anthology from Alexander Chee (a first of his for me!), a new book by Jamie Quatro, and an oldie but goodie from the legendary Maggie Nelson.
So let’s discuss, shall we?
The synopses in this post were provided courtesy of Amazon and Goodreads.
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Alexander Chee, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
Synopsis: How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is the author’s manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend. He examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and the nation’s history, including his father’s death, the AIDS crisis, 9/11, the jobs that supported his writing—Tarot-reading, bookselling, cater-waiting for William F. Buckley—the writing of his first novel, Edinburgh, and the election of Donald Trump.
Thoughts: I previewed How to Write an Autobiographical Novel in our most anticipated books of the year, and for obvious reasons. This is my first time reading Chee’s work, and since I’ve started, I can say this book will be essential to any aspiring writer. It’s rare you come across a teacher as comparative and kind-hearted and charming as Chee; though I’m barely a third of the way through, he’s made a fan of me yet. From the jewels he drops about his mentorship under Annie Dillard to his reflections of understanding himself as a gay youth, a lot of Chee’s sentiments mirror many of my own.