Inbox/Outbox: January 24, 2014

Hello, everyone. Can you believe January is already this far along? I can’t. I hope that if you made bookish resolutions, you’re still going strong on ’em.

It’s been a dark reading week for me, but a rewarding one. I hope you’ve read some good stuff, too. I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Inbox (Books Acquired)

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Yes, I know. Finally. I had this one from the library but hadn’t yet started it when I saw someone else had a hold on it; like a good bookish citizen, I returned it a few days early so that fellow patron wouldn’t have to wait on it to sit unread on my shelf. Then, as if rewarding me for my good deed (and/or knowing way too much about me), the book gods decided to mark this one down to a price I couldn’t afford to pass on. So now I can finally get this immigrant tale/Jewish-Arab myth mashup in my brain without having to rush through it.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
I know, I know. Double finally! I can’t wait to sit down with Cromwell and the Gang and find myself as addicted to this world as everyone else has been for years.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
This is my most anticipated read in my inbox this week, and it’ll make the queue before the other two. Laurie Halse Anderson, whose name I can scarcely mention without my heart smiling a little, has handled difficult matters like date rape (in Speak) and eating disorders (in Wintergirls) with such loving empathy and grace that I trust her implicitly with the story of a veteran’s PTSD and how it affects both his life and that of his teenage daughter.

Outbox (Books Finished)

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay (Black Cat/Grove Atlantic, May 2014)
Holy, holy. Readers, I implore you: put this on your list and when you get your hot little hands on it, make sure you have nothing else to do until you can finish it. I read it before bed (mistake), I read it while eating (unusual for me), I read it while pretending to listen to the other end of phone conversations (rude!) It was insanely triggering, and I kept right on reading.

Mireille Duval-Jameson, a Haitian-American woman, is kidnapped from her father’s estate in Port-au-Prince in front of her husband and not-yet-weaned baby son. Her captors keep her for thirteen days while her father, struggling with his pride, wrestles with the decision of whether or not to ransom her. As she endures escalating abuse at the hands of several men, Mireille finds strength within herself that she cannot believe she possesses, and not since Room have I held my breath for the span of several paragraphs without realizing it. And then, there’s the aftermath. Amazing, amazing stuff: brutal and hard to read but gorgeously written and impossible not to. I’m not likely to be the same for a while after reading this book and considering everything it asked me to consider about class, race, privilege, marriage, family, and love.

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman
The structure of Girlchild takes a little bit of getting used to. It’s disjointed and unconventional, which is the only way it makes sense to tell Rory Dawn Hendrix’s story. She’s not a Girl Scout, but she has the manual. She’s bright and tough, but she’s trapped in bad circumstances—poverty, sexual abuse—she fears she’ll never be able to escape. I loved her narrative voice. Like An Untamed State, this book will definitely stay with me, though I will admit I started to find its format somewhat exasperating by the end.

In the Queue

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee
So many Rioters have fallen in love with this dystopian novel, released earlier this month. When fellow Rioter Kit said, “Buy if you are a Margaret Atwood/Cormac McCarthy dystopia-lover; borrow if Divergent is more your speed,” well, I ran-not-walked to get my hands on it because I *love* an Atwood dystopia.

And, I hope, something that doesn’t involve sexual abuse.

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