Books acquired: “M Train,” Patti Smith; “Old Cucamonga,” Paula Emick; “Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls,” David Sedaris.
Books read: “Tangled Vines,” Frances Dinkelspiel; “Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, Vol. 1,” H.P. Lovecraft and others; “I Sing the Body Electric!” Ray Bradbury.
It was a three-book month no matter how you look at it: I bought three and read three. Unfortunately, the ones I read weren’t the ones I bought, but their time will come. The three I bought were all signed by the authors, which is cool, either in advance (Smith) or in front of me (Emick, Sedaris).
“Tangled Vines,” which was sent to me by the publisher a few weeks ago, has already been the subject of a column. I focused only on the Cucamonga bits, but there’s a lot more to the book, half of which, in alternating sections, deals with a notorious winery arson of 2005. The rest delves into wine’s history in California. It’s very readable and stays away from the wine-snob attitude that can make this sort of thing an eye-roller for us plebes. It’s really just a slice of California history. Oh, and the author signed it in front of me.
The other two books I read this month are totally different. Also, their writers are dead, so these books must go unsigned. I reread a Bradbury from childhood and read the first of a two-volume horror anthology.
The latter has a story by Lovecraft and further stories by his friends and acolytes, among them August Derleth, Henry Kuttner, Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith, all involving in some fashion HPL’s squid-like Elder Gods. It was fun, but hit or miss. I’ll get to the second volume next year.
The Bradbury, from 1969, is from his most ecstatic period, opening with a Whitman quote and progressing through stories that often avoid fantasy entirely to qualify as mainstream fiction. To my mind it’s among his weakest books, with thin plots and overly poetic monologues by everyone involved, and by my subjective count only five of the 18 stories were up to snuff.
(My copy, from childhood, fell to pieces. But like a good Bradbury fan, I have a spare.)
In short, “Tangled Vines” was the month’s winner.
How was your November, readers? And how are you hoping to finish off your reading year? What with holiday activities, and a few friends with birthdays, even an introvert like myself may find reading time scarce. I’m hoping to finish up a couple of things and start some books for January.
Next month: I finish up a couple of things, etc.