By July

June was an interesting month. Ran 43.5 miles. But, for the reading it was full of short stories and quick reads. Finished:

  • The Millstone by Margaret Drabble
  • Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill
  • Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
  • Yocandra in the Paradise of Nada by Zoe Valdes
  • A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan (AB)
  • A Death in the Family by James Agee
  • Edge of Time by Loula Grace Erdman – probably my favorite

Short stories:

  • “A perfect Day for a Bananafish” by JD Salinger
  • “For Esme – with Love and Squalor” by JD Salinger
  • “The Orphan” by Nell Freudenberger
  • “Outside the Eastern Gates” by Nell Freudenberger
  • “Four Calling Brids, Three French Hens” by Lorrie Moore
  • “People Like That Are the Only People Here” by Lorrie Moore
  • “Mr Squishy” by David Foster Wallace
  • “The Suffering Channel” by David Foster Wallace
  • “Blight” by David Bezmozgis
  • “Hot Ice” by David Bezmozgis

For fun I read two books related to running:

  • Anatomy, Stretching and Training for Marathoners by Dr. Philip Striano
  • Rocket Fuel by Matthew Kadrey, MD

And for the Early Review program with LibraryThing, another book about running:

  • Off the Beaten Trail by Meghan Hicks and Bryon Powell

Yocandra in the Paradise of Nada

Valdes, Zoe. Yocandra in the Paradise of Nada: a Novel of Cuba. New York: Arcade Publishing, 1995

Reason read: June is Caribbean Heritage Month & Yocandra takes place mostly in Cuba.

Meet Yocandra. She is a woman with an identity crisis. Born Patria, at sixteen she develops a rebellious streak and marries an author turned philosopher who takes her away from her beloved Cuba for some time. She is a wild child, fiery and passionate, just like her homeland. I don’t know how to explain the rest of this short novel. Yocandra’s second marriage ends in death & so at an early age she is a widow. That doesn’t slow her down in the least. She has two lovers, the Nihilist and the Traitor. At best, Yocandra is a handful, and all one can hope to do is just try to keep up with her.

Lines worth mentioning, “There I was, a tiny little lump slimy with maternal gook, wrapped in the Cuban flag, and already my father was scolding me for failing to fulfill my revolutionary duty” (p 11), “What sin has a people committed that causes the sea to demand expiation?” (p 54), “In my heart I’m still more Cuban than the palm trees and no one can ever change that” (p 90), and “Apparently our politics can be determined from our excrement” (p 152).

Author fact: Yocandra is Valdes’s first novel.

Book trivia: Yocandra was translated from the Spanish by Sabina Cienfuegos. She includes notes about references and Spanish dialect used in Cuba. Very useful. Another detail of note – this could be considered a short story being barely 150 pages in length.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Cuba Si!” (p 68).

A Fresh Start for June

May is ending with disappointment. The caboose of the story (instead of the whole train) is that due to work obligations Kisa & I were not able to make it to Maine for a long weekend over the holiday. As a result I had to burn two vacation days at home. June will be a better month. But, to be fair – May wasn’t so shabby for books:

  • Brilliant Orange by David Winner
  • Bold Spirit by Linda Hunt
  • Jordan by E. Borgia
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandre Solzhenitsyn
  • Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill
  • The Chosen by Chaim Potok
  • Map of Another Town by MFK Fisher
  • All the Rage by Martin Moran (ER)


  • Arab and Jew by David Shipler
  • Perks of Being a Wallflower by¬† David Chbosky


  • Master of the Senate by Robert Caro

For JUNE, here are the books & why:

  1. Yocandra in the Paradise of Nada by Zoe Valdes in honor of Caribbean Heritage Month
  2. Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill to continue the series started in May
  3. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich in honor of her birth month
  4. The Millstone by Margaret Drabble in honor of family month
  5. A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan in honor of World War II (D-Day)

June is National Short Story Month:

  • from Birds of America by Lorrie Moore:
    • Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens
    • People Like That are the Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk
  • from Lucky Girls by Nell Freudenberger:
    • The Orphan
    • Outside the Eastern Gate
  • from Nine Stories by JD Salinger:
    • A Perfect Day for a Bananafish
    • For Esme: with Love & Squalor