Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What I'm Reading

A few of the titles I'm reading this week...

1.  The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus
Finally arrived from my holds list!  Fist of all, such a well designed cover!!!  I'm about 20 pages in and am finding it to be a really strong read so far...

Summary: (from the Strand website) "A terrible epidemic has struck the country and the sound of children’s speech has become lethal. Radio transmissions from strange sources indicate that people are going into hiding. All Sam and Claire need to do is look around the neighborhood: In the park, parents wither beneath the powerful screams of their children. At night, suburban side streets become routes of shameful escape for fathers trying to get outside the radius of affliction. With Claire nearing collapse, it seems their only means of survival is to flee from their daughter, Esther, who laughs at her parents’ sickness, unaware that in just a few years she, too, will be susceptible to the language toxicity. But Sam and Claire find it isn’t so easy to leave the daughter they still love, even as they waste away from her malevolent speech. On the eve of their departure, Claire mysteriously disappears and Sam, determined to find a cure for this new toxic language, presses on alone into a world beyond recognition. Ben Marcus is the author of three previous works of fiction: Notable American Women, The Father Costume, and The Age of Wire and String."

Here's what the good folks at NPR had to say about The Flame Alphabet

2.   Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins

I won this title through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, and I'm really excited for it to be my subway read.

Summary: (from the Strand website) "A debut collection of 10 short stories re-imagines the mythology of the American West through the experiences of protagonists who endure hardship and violence in the face of such challenges as a foreigner's erotic changes at a prostitution ranch, a hermit's attempt to rescue an abused teen and a woman's role in a friend's degrading Vegas encounter."

3.  There Is No Year by Blake Butler

Impulse library pick up.  The premise sounded really cool, so I'm excited to start it.

Summary: (from the Strand website) Blake Butler’s inventive third novel (Ever, Scorched Atlas) is dedicated 'For no one' and begins with an eerie prologue about the saturation of the world with a damaging light. At times grotesque, at times sexual, always pushing the bounds of plot, form, narrative, and reality, the novel presents a demanding yet unique read - a totally convoluted tale of a family in extreme distress.


  1. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Flame Alphabet! It's been on my shelf for months and I haven't gotten around to reading it and I've been hearing tons of mixed reviews. Also, a good friend of mine was roommates with Clare Vaye Watkins in college--I've heard great things and I'm looking forward to reading that one!

    Looks & Books

  2. Hi, Jill! I *just* started Flame Alphabet a few nights ago and am really enjoying it so far! Marcus seems to trust in the intelligence of the reader and is doing a really good job of holding back just enough so that, as the reader, I have to work a bit, which I like. I'm only 45 pages in, so I hope this trend continues :)

    I also started Battleborn on the train this afternoon, and the first short story is incredibly well-written! I had no idea her father, Paul Watkins, was a follower of Charles Manson (http://www.granta.com/New-Writing/Keeping-it-in-the-family/) and she incorporates herself and her family into that initial story. I'm looking forward to delving into another story on my way to work tomorrow!

    Thanks for stopping by!!!