With all the time I spend on subways these days I have been burning through books.
This week I finished The Bookshop, by Penelope Fitzgerald, which was well-written but bleak, and Ludmilla Petrushevskaya's new collection, There Once Lived A Mother Who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In: Three Novellas About Family. I assure you despite the amusing title this book is anything but funny.
Now I have three books going. I made significant headway into Paule Marshall's Praisesong for the Widow, which I'm enjoying. It's about a middle-aged, affluent African American woman who leaves her friends at a port of call on a cruise they're taking together, and the adventures that await her outside her comfort zone. I like it a lot; it has an urgency and a sense of almost panic about it so far, which reflects the character's state of mind.
I also started Alina Bronsky's new book, Just Call Me Superhero, about a support group for disabled and/or disfigured adults. Told from the point of view of Marek, a young man disfigured in a rottweiler attack, it's also a little brittle and hard to access, again owing to the narrator's angry and distrustful state of mind. I want to muscle through though, because I've loved Bronsky's earlier books, especially her debut Broken Glass Park. That remains one of the truest examinations of family violence I've ever read.
Finally I started Patrick Modiano's Missing Person, a noir about finding oneself. Modiano is this year's winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and the book was a little tricky for me to track down but I seem to have managed it. Largely out of print in English, Godine Press had a small quantity that were quickly in high demand and I was unable to get it from the bookstore where I used to work. But now I live in New York, so the Strand was able to fix me up. It's atmospheric and strange, and I'm only a few chapters in but I like it.