Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A Month In The Life: April 2020

You almost have to wonder if Corona the beer is going to re-brand after all this...I think we're all very tired of hearing about corona anything! I never thought I would miss waking up early and going into the office, honestly, but here I am hoping that I get to spend some quality hours outside the apartment sometime soon (when it's safe, of course).

In Books...
  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek: The more broadly I read, the more I learn that there are certain sorts of books that are just not for me. The subgenre I've dubbed "nature thoughts" is one of them. Unfortunately for me, this Pulitzer Prize-winner is exactly that. Dillard's devotion to examining plant and animal life alongside the creek in the Virginia backcountry is clearly deep, and her writing is sweeping and ambitious, but I found it both terminally dull and eye-rollingly overwrought.
  • Shatter Me: This, on the other hand, very much worked for me, despite the fact that I've largely moved past YA dystopias of the "chosen one" variety. Part of that is the way that Mafi crafts a unique voice for her heroine, which helps it rise above the many tropes she indulges in. And to be honest, part of it is probably related to the fact that this kind of angsty drama is just easy and fun to read, especially in a time of crisis. 
  • Amateur: This short book is about the author's experience of becoming the first trans man to box at Madison Square Garden (as part of a charity match). It's a blend of memoir and examination of masculinity, particularly the ways in which violence is tied in to conceptions of maleness. It's honestly uneven: some moments all but took my breath away with their clarity and insight, but at other times you can feel McBee stretching to pad out the page count with superfluous information or digressions that never really go anywhere. 
  • The Perfect Son: This is the kind of low-stakes family drama which I usually enjoy: when a hyper-involved stay-at-home mother has a massive heart attack, her workaholic investment banker husband and their son, who has Tourette's, find themselves really needing to connect for the first time. It is FULL of cliches and lazy sentimentality and the resolution is way too pat and predictable and I did not like it at all.
  • A Beginning at the End: First of all, this was 1000% the wrong time to be reading a book about the world in the wake of a major pandemic, but that's not the book's fault. This had promise: the characters were compelling and relatable, and I was impressed by how well it was structured and paced. But there were some clumsy moments, some promising plot elements never really developed, and the end in particular resolved a little too neatly.
  • Cutting for Stone: I'm a sucker for a family epic set against significant historical events, so this over-600-pager set in and around a hospital in Addis Ababa during the reign of Haile Selassie was very appealing to me. The storytelling is strong, and I enjoyed it overall, but the main character was underdeveloped and while the prose quality was competent enough it never took off like I wanted it to.

In Life...
  • Social distancing continues: Like many of you, I spent the month trying to leave my house as little as possible. I'll be honest: this really sucks. I miss my coworkers, I miss my friends, I miss my book club. I miss places that aren't my apartment. I miss going to the thrift store to browse around. I miss planning vacations. I am so happy that we've been able to flatten the curve as much as we have, but I am ready for what's next...but only once it's right, which I very much hope is sooner rather than later!

One Thing:

The library is always a great community resource, but as their buildings are closed, I recommend taking a look at what's available online! I've been able to access Rosetta Stone through the Clark County library system to try to brush up a little on my long-faded Italian, and have been watching some of The Great Courses to keep myself intellectually engaged. I had no idea before the pandemic that either was available to me as a cardholder!

Gratuitous Pug Picture: 

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