A Year’s Reading

It’s been a slow year for me in terms of reading. I haven’t read many novels – certainly not as many as I did in 2012 and 2013. But I have probably read more short fiction than usual, in magazines such as Structo, Ambit, Firewords Quarterly, theNewerYork and others, as well as in the writing workshop I’m a member of.

Here’s the list.

Underworld by Don DeLillo – I gave up on this around two-hundred pages in. The writing is great and I was completely absorbed during the first few sections, but things grew very slow as the book went on. I’m usually fine with a slow burner, but I suppose tastes change and fluctuate. I don’t doubt I’ll come back to it at some point.

High Rise by J. G. Ballard – I needed something short after Underworld. Something quicker, edgier, completely different. High Rise charts the social descent of a group of people in a huge block of flats, and the chaos that ensues.

Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy – I like anything by McCarthy, and this was no exception. Despite being a very simple story, fable-like in its telling – it haunts.

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller – Excellently written, poetic one moment and stark the next. Heller takes liberties with sentence construction at times, and this facet of his writing style is something I admire – it’s something I do in my own writing – although I wonder if it irked some readers. Also, there’s a thread of hope running through the book, which was a relief after Outer Dark.

Naked Lunch by William Burroughs – Another one I gave up on. What little I have written this year has been more experimental compared to my previous efforts, so I read Naked Lunch hoping to learn something new regarding experimental writing. However, I just couldn’t get along with it. The swirling, rushing prose worked for the first few pages, but it soon became tiresome.

Revival by Stephen King – This feels like a return to the subject matter he explored earlier in his career, particularly in novels such as Salem’s Lot. There were also some fun links and nods to his other novels, such as the Dark Tower series. However, as is often the case with his later works, Revival‘s ending doesn’t quite deliver.

Currently reading: Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway.

Some short fiction I’ve read this year, off the top of my head: Munitions by Anton Rose, and Under the Dark by Dawn Bailey.