Quotable Friday: From Understories

“All that about apples not falling far from the tree — shit, that. I know; I tumbled ass-first earthward and fell where I fell, and where I fell, I rolled, only then recognizing how rounded parts of me must have been. I wound up whole deserts from Morrisania, deserts that gleamed and those dull as obverse mirrors, deserts lush with indifference and misinformation. If sand can turn to glass without human ordination, surely that was what had happened here time and time again. I passed shards that had never been part of anything larger than themselves, whose only shot at survival was to stow away in passing flesh, lodging in soles and ankles that no longer could tell agony apart from ordinary touch.”

— Understories by Tim Horvath

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Book Review: Understories by Tim Horvath

Book Review: Understories by Tim Horvath
UNDERSTORIES
by Tim Horvath

Fiction: Short stories
Bellevue Literary Press, May 2012
Paperback, 254 pages
Source: Provided by author for review

Understories is Tim Horvath’s first short story collection, and it is a mightily fun one to read. You may remember my review of his novella “Circulation” a few months ago; “Circulation” is included in this collection, as well as some other wonderful stories.

This collection contains eight “Urban Planning” case studies, most of which are roughly three pages long; six miscellaneous stories; and seven longer pieces in the 20-to-35-page range. Continue reading

Musing Monday: Weird Books

This week MizB asks bloggers to muse upon the question:

What is the weirdest/strangest/craziest book you’ve ever read?

This is might be a tad unoriginal, but my “weird book” pick is a Murakami novel. Don’t get me wrong, I really like his books. Mostly. Norwegian Wood is one of my favorites, Kafka on the Shore is intriguing, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is meandering and slightly baffling. But the book that screams “weirdest” at me is A Wild Sheep Chase. Let me share the back cover copy:

“A marvelous hybrid of mythology and mystery, A Wild Sheep Chase is the extraordinary literary thriller that launched Haruki Murakami’s international reputation. It begins simply enough: A twenty-something advertising executive receives a postcard from a friend and casually appropriates the image for an insurance company’s advertisement. What he doesn’t realize is that included in the pastoral scene is a mutant sheep with a star on its back, and in using this photo he has unwittingly captured the attention of a man in black who offers a menacing ultimatum: find the sheep or face dire consequences. Thus begins a surreal and elaborate quest that takes our hero from the urban haunts of Tokyo to the remote and snowy mountains of northern Japan, where he confronts not only the mythological sheep, but the confines of tradition and the demons deep within himself. Quirky and utterly captivating, A Wild Sheep Chase is Murakami at his astounding best.”

This is only a tiny glimpse of the weirdness that lies between the covers. It was very strange and a little confusing; I remember being confused about what I had just absorbed even after finishing the book. I can accept talking cats and prostitutes who only service their clients in the mental realm, but this sheep thing was a little bit too far out there for me.

What’s the weirdest/strangest book you have ever read?

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

Quotable Friday: from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

“Mama and Papa sat in the kitchen. They would sit there and talk until daybreak. Papa was telling about the night’s work; the people he had seen, what they had looked like and how they spoke. The Nolans just couldn’t get enough of life. They lived their own lives up to the hilt but that wasn’t enough. They had to fill in on the lives of all the people they made contact with.”

— A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Book Review: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Book Review: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar WildeTHE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
by Oscar Wilde

Drama
Dover Thrift, 1990 (first published 1895)
Paperback, 121 pages

I read this play for a read-along hosted by Wallace of Unputdownables, and I must say I really enjoyed my first foray into Wilde’s work! I’m a little dismayed, even, that I’ve had The Picture of Dorian Gray sitting unread on my bookshelf for over a year. What was I thinking? This stuff is wonderfully funny and brilliant, and it could have been in my brain 12 months ago! Needless to say, as soon as I finished reading The Importance of Being Earnest yesterday, I pulled The Picture of Dorian Gray from my shelf and placed it on my dresser, where it happily awaits my eager perusal. Continue reading

Top Ten Reads Since Starting My Blog

Top Ten Tuesday

Another week, another list! For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, the folks at The Broke and the Bookish ask readers to list our top ten favorite books we’ve read since starting our blogs. I’ve only been blogging since January, so the list of books I’ve read during Books Speak Volumes’ lifespan is rather short, but I have read some fantastic books in this time! Here are my top ten favorites in no particular order. Continue reading

Book Review: The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell

Book Review: The Power of Myth by Joseph CampbellTHE POWER OF MYTH
by Joseph Campbell

Non-fiction: Comparative Mythology
Anchor Doubleday, 2011
(first published 1989)
Hardcover, 287 pages

The Power of Myth is the companion text to the 1988 six-part PBS documentary called Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. In this documentary Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion, is interviewed by journalist Bill Mowyers about the role of mythology in modern society. This companion text to the documentary is just that — a companion. It does not exactly replicate the conversations broadcast on television; rather, it follows the flow of the televised conversation while also weaving in additional information gleaned from the 24 hours of filmed conversation. Continue reading

Quotable Friday: from Arcadia

“He had liberated a red lightbulb from a photography store and stolen cash from Hannah for the chemicals, and only in the half-light of his improvised darkroom, watching the world emerge on a piece of white paper, did he feel his old self stirring. He could control this world. He could create tiny windows he could fit between his hands and study until he began to understand them.”

– Arcadia by Lauren Groff

Book Review: The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

Book Review: The Family Fang by Kevin WilsonTHE FAMILY FANG
by Kevin Wilson

Fiction
Ecco, 2011
Hardcover, 309 pages

When your parents are famous artists, it’s difficult to have a normal childhood. When those parents are Caleb and Camille Fang, an artistic duo whose claim to fame is their orchestration of chaos, it’s difficult to escape childhood without expensive therapy. Enter Annie and Buster, Caleb and Camille’s children, also known as Child A and Child B for their (reluctant) roles in their parents’ artistic pieces. Continue reading

Book Review: Arcadia by Lauren Groff

Book Review: Arcadia by Lauren GroffARCADIA
by Lauren Groff

Fiction
Hyperion, January 2012
Hardcover, 289 pages

Lauren Groff’s second novel, Arcadia, tells the story of the first child born to Arcadia, a hippie commune in upstate New York. As Bit, so nicknamed for being born the “littlest bit of a hippie ever made,” grows from a tiny baby into a sensitive teenager, the commune grows from a tight-knit group of 50 Free People into a deeply flawed, hierarchical society including teenage runaways and strung-out Trippies. When the commune falls apart when Bit is 14, he and his mother, Hannah, and father, Abe, must adjust to life in the outside world. Continue reading