April Comes Quickly

I don’t know where March went. I’ve looked under calendars and in date books and I still can’t figure it out. The month went by so fast! Here are the books finished for March:

  • Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
  • The Assistant by Bernard Malamud
  • Family Man by Jayne Krentz
  • Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (AB)
  • The Brontes by Juliet Barker (DNF)
  • Means of Ascent by Robert Caro (DNF)
  • Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan (Fun)
  • In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White (would have been an Early Review book a long time ago)

On tap for April (besides a little Noodle 5k run):

  • A Considerable Town by MFK Fisher ~ in honor of April being the best time to visit France
  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman ~ for fun
  • Green Thoughts by Eleanor Perenyi ~ in honor of gardening month
  • Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot ~ in honor of April Fools
  • Don’t Eat This Book by Morgan Spurlock ~ in honor of April being Food Month (AB)
  • The Grand Tour by Tim Moore ~ in honor of Harvey Ball passing in April

The Assistant

Malamud, Bernard. The Assistant. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1985.

Reason read: Malamud died in the month of March. Sad book for a sad occasion.

Confession: I have a hard time with Malamud. He writes with a melancholy I can’t put my finger on. The Assistant is no different with its depressing tone. From page one it is laced with utter sadness. This quote from the introduction seems to sum up Malamud’s writing perfectly, “Malamud was a master of the short story, and it sometimes seems that his characters are too poor to live in longer fiction” (p viii).

Morris Bober is a Jewish grocer in poverty stricken, post-WWII Brooklyn. He can barely make ends meet but does the best he can for his wife and twenty-three year old daughter. When his meager store is robbed the dye is cast.It only gets more complicated after Frank Alpine mysteriously comes into his life to help with the store, court his daughter and change his life. One of the most beautiful elements to Malamud’s writing is that for all his sadness, there is a thin thread of hope that winds its way through the story. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the story ends with hope.

The Assistant is rich with the culture of life as an immigrant. It’s also rich with the climate of the era. Can you picture a time when peopleĀ  said things like, “Say, baby, let’s drop this deep philosophy and go trap a hamburger” (p 44)?

Quotes I fell in love with: “He crawled towards sleep” (p 10), “Wisdom flew over his hard head” (p 18), “How complicated could impossible get?” (p 89), “Where there was no wit money couldn’t buy it” (p 153) and “What you did was how bad you smelled” (p 174). They are so simple yet powerful.

Book trivia: Jonathan Rosen’s introduction is unfair when he says “…finish the novel before you finish this sentence…” (p ix).

Author fact: Malamud taught at Bennington College in Vermont. Cool.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called, of course, “The Jewish-American Experience” (p 134).


March Musings

What can I say about March? Personally, it’s the St. Patrick’s Day 10k road race. I’ve been injured so it’s hard to anticipate how well I will or won’t do. I went for my first outdoor run this weekend and ran 7.5 with a steady sub-10 pace. That felt strong! Happy girl! And speaking of strong, here’s what’s on deck for the books:

  1. Naked Lunch by William Burroughs – in honor of Jack Kerouac’s birth month. Jack and William were friends…
  2. Family Man by Jayne Ann Krentz – in honor of Krentz’s birth month
  3. The Brontes by Juliet Barker – in honor of March being literature month (over 1,000 pages!)
  4. Means of Ascent by Robert Caro – to continue the series started in honor of Presidents Day being in February (EB)
  5. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson – in honor of Maine becoming a state in March
  6. The Assistant by Bernard Malamud – Malamud died in March.
  7. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie – in honor of the Academy Awards being in February and March (HOAYS was made into a movie)

For Fun:

  1. Confessional: still reading Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan

For LibraryThing:

  1. I am supposed to receive Why the Grateful Dead Matter by Michael Benson as a January Early Review book sometime in the month of March…As an aside, there are a few other books I haven’t received and feel bad that I never read or reviewed them. I am sure they have all been published by now and so (I can’t believe I’m saying this) I’m going to see if a library has them. If they do, I will read and review as if I got them as Early Reviews from LibraryThing. The first non-early review I am going to tackle is a book I was supposed to received in 2009 – Sanctuary of Outcasts, a memoir by Neil White.