All posts filed under: books

Mitzi Bytes by Kerry Clare | edge of evening

Mitzi Bytes

The day was wide open before them, which could go either way. Elastic enough to hold all the things they’d fill it with, or gaping wide and bloated–it would depend on the kids’ temperaments and her own. Everything was still possible from where she was lying now, though, and she relished the moment. The whole house quiet, life as she knew it. This, this, this.Mitzi Bytes by Kerry Clare I‘d been looking forward to meeting Mitzi ever since I first heard about her. But Mitzi, it turns out, is kind of elusive. Although she’s been blogging since the final years of the last century, and has even had a couple of moderately successful books published, no one but her creator knows Mitzi Bytes’s true identity. No one, that is, until Sarah Lundy gets an email from the mysterious Jane Q: “Guess what–this game is over. You’re officially found out.” If I were to make a list of the things that I love in books, Mitzi Bytes would have them all. Feisty children; domestic mess; the sense of …

Hot Milk & Eileen | edge of evening

The female body: Eileen & Hot Milk

It’s up to you to break the old circuits.Hélène Cixous, ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’, epigraph to ‘Hot Milk’ by Deborah Levy So often with reading, it’s all about the connections. The secret conversations between one book and the next. And, blue covers & Booker shortlist connection aside, the two books I ended last year with had a lot to talk to one another about. Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen and Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk could stay up all night talking about mothers (alive and dead), fathers (alcoholic and abandoning), alienation, boldness, sexuality, and the female body. They’re also both compulsively readable novels. I came to Ottessa Moshfegh through her short stories which are fearless and physical and altogether unlike anything else. I highly recommend ‘Bettering Myself’ in the Paris Review (subscription or free trial needed to read the whole story). Eileen is set over a few days before Christmas in 1964 and narrated by a much older Eileen looking back on her twenty-four year old self and what turned out to be her last few days in X-ville, the …

Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce | edge of evening

Love Me Back

I knew nothing about Merritt Tierce’s debut novel Love Me Back when I picked it off the shelf at the library a few weeks back. I’d only heard of Tierce because I’d read her widely circulated essay on money and writing back in September, in which she wrote about the financial reality that followed publishing a first novel to ‘wide acclaim’, For over a year after Love Me Back came out I woke up every day with this loop in my head: I should write. But I need money. If I write something I can sell it and I’ll have money. But I need money now. If I had money now, I could calm down and write something. I don’t have money now, so I’m probably not going to be able to calm down and write something. To have money now, I need a job. I should get a job.Merritt Tierce I remember reading that piece and feeling sympathy, but also thinking, maybe your book just isn’t as good as you think it is. I was so very …

post-election reading | edge of evening

What are you going through?

I had put dark brackets around the paragraph that began, “The love of our neighbour in all its fullness simply means being able to say to him: ‘What are you going through?’” [Simone] Weil was talking about the Grail quest, about the king afflicted with a terrible wound, experiencing excruciating pain. She was talking about suffering. The Grail was said to belong to the one who is compelled, feels the compassion, knows to ask, and, most importantly, has the courage to ask the king, “What are you going through?” Which seemed a very easy thing to do, but of course this is complicated by those cold and sometimes necessary distances we keep from one another as human beings, by our reservations, by our worries about what might be appropriate, by protocols, by hesitation, by over-interpretation of who the sorrowing suffering Grail king might truly be. How is one to do this?Rumi and the Red Handbag by Shawna Lemay I’m a firm believer in the serendipity of reading: that each book finds us when we most need …

Confession | edge of evening

Confession

The thing about blogging is that it’s not at all hard to think of things to write about. It’s just a matter of noticing. Going through your days paying attention to the things that give you pause, the things you read that articulate some thought that you hadn’t yet quite formulated, the books you read that you want to press into someone else’s hands immediately. But, as in a fairy story, these bright bits and pieces you collect will turn to dust if you try to save them. (The same with Instagram. It’s just a habit of being aware. Noticing the small things like the way the light falls in certain places only at certain times of the year. Spending the treasure of what you see, not hoarding it for a rainy day.) What is hard though, is writing about a book, even one you’ve loved, weeks or months after you’ve read it. And this is my confession: there have been good books & I haven’t told you about them. This blog hardly has a …

The Baby in the Mirror by Charles Fernyhough | edge of evening

The Baby in the Mirror

She wove language from the plainest of threads. Before she could talk, she could spin lengths of undifferentiated sound, just by voicing an outbreath and letting the noise push out on a flow of exhaled air. By eight weeks she could shape her mouth to make a contented ur-ur, expressing satisfaction at the way the world looked and the fact that she was at the centre of it. Her growing awareness of reality meant multiplying objects of desire, new ways for her material ambitions to be thwarted.The Baby in the Mirror by Charles Fernyhough It’s strange, but I’ve read so much about motherhood that it’s easy to overlook how very little I’ve read about fatherhood. Nicolson Baker’s wonderful Room Temperature. Peter Carey’s essay A Letter to Our Son. I think of Gilead but although that is a wonderful book of fatherly love, it is, of course, written by a mother not a father. It doesn’t amount to much. So it was wonderful to read The Baby in the Mirror, a tender and searching account of the first three years of life from a …

Her Thirty-Seventh Year by Suzanne Scanlon | edge of evening

Her 37th Year: An Index

HAMLET (see also: Baby, The), We watch three film versions of Hamlet. I cry even when it is Bill Murray playing Polonius. I imagine my baby as Laertes. “Do you know how it is when someone dies? Birth is like that, too, just in reverse,” I say. Just before you announce the impending awkwardness, I ask aloud, “How could I have created something, someone, whom I will someday lose?” I think, How could life mean anything more, ever, ever again? . JOY (see also: Mother, Question, and Skunks), as experienced when in a dark room I lie next to Magoo and his cousin. Every so often, just when I think they might be asleep, a high voice with a serious question: “Are there skunks in Pittsburgh?” or “Do old-fashioned cars go faster than convertibles?” Four-year old musing & inquiry; for a moment I wish that Magoo would be four years old forever, that I might spend a life in this room with two four year old boys. There are times it feels like Heaven to …

In Certain Circles by Elizabeth Harrower | edge of evening

In Certain Circles

Whether the expressions so recently shown on her face belonged to the luminous quality of her eyes, or to the shape of her mouth, or to her nature, neither Zoe nor her mother yet knew: she was only seventeen. Zoe had awakened in this square stone house on the north side of Sydney Harbour, and learned soon afterwards from her family and their friends that she was remarkable. There was a big garden. There were people of her own size for company. At the end of the short street of old houses in long-established gardens was a white curved beach with rocks, rock pools, very small waves, shells, pebbles, fine sand. She swam before she walked. In Certain Circles by Elizabeth Harrower Sometimes you read a book which contains answers to questions that you haven’t yet fully articulated. I’ve just been sitting on a bench in the garden, beneath the magnolia, with a riotous racket of birdsong going on all around me. I went out there to leaf through In Certain Circles, to remember why I loved it so. …

Patrin by Theresa Kishkan | edge of evening

Patrin

He walked me home that evening, and came in to see the quilt. I took it off my bed, into the small living room, and over cups of Earl Grey tea, we looked at each square. I showed him the work I’d done, the new binding sewn over the old, and I showed him how the tiny veins of the leaves in faded gold thread led to brighter gold in protected areas. He told me the names of the leaves in Czech — dubová, the oak; lipa, the linden (though we have a familiar, an affectionate, name for it too, he said; we call it lipky); buková, the beech; and javorovy, the maple. He looked thoughtfully at the squares, the patterns of the leaves within them, and they grey sashing — not straight, as one would expect, but meandering at times, so the the block it led to might have an oblong of linen patched between the leaves and the sashing. Do you know something? It was not posed as a question but as a discovery. I think …

Cassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker | edge of evening

Cassandra at the Wedding

I told them I could be free by the twenty-first, and that I’d come home the twenty-second. (June.) […] It’s only a five-hour drive from the University to the ranch, if you move along — if you don’t stop for orange juice every fifty miles the way we used to, Judith and I, our first two years in college, or at bars, the way we did later, after we’d studied how to pass for over twenty-one at under twenty. As I say, if you move, if you push a little, you can get from Berkeley to our ranch in five hours, and the reason why we never cared to in the old days was that we had to work up to home life by degrees, steel ourselves somewhat for the three-part welcome we were in for from our grandmother and our mother and our father, who loved us fiercely in three different ways. We loved them too, six different ways, but we mostly took our time about getting home.Opening of ‘Cassandra at the Wedding’ by Dorothy Baker It …