Yes, this blog hit a sophomore slump for awhile there. But I have been reading and even reviewing, if not writing about it in this forum. My latest was a book called “Literary Seductions” by Frances Wilson — I saw it referred to somewhere, looked it up in our catalogue at work and got it through interlibrary loan. Last weekend, I read it. It was OK though not to my standard of high-end literary gossip/lives for regular readers (“Parallel Lives” by Phyllis Rose being my high watermark in the genre). It was kind of a hybrid between academic treatise and layperson read. Maybe that’s how they do it in the UK. Anyway a decent read.
But not as good as the previous one, “Wild Nights!” by Joyce Carol Oates, which I have reviewed for an upcoming edition of Solares Hill. I know, I know, JCO’s prodigious output can be intimidating. And I even made sure to write this review without using the word “prolific.” But this is a good one, maybe because it’s also on the literary lives vein — but with the Oatesean twists of eerieness and weirdness pushed a few shoves beyond comfort level.
The stories are all very different from one another, which is good, and makes it difficult to choose a favorite. I might have liked the first one the least, perhaps because of all the writers I’ve read the least Poe, perhaps because the 19th century diary style was a tad offputting. The Emily Dickinson robot story is savagely funny, the Hemingway story full of pathos. And, in an additional Key West link, the book is dedicated to Joyce and Seward Johnson, of sculpture and Key West Literary Seminar scholarship fame.
I also read “The Princess of Burundi,” another Swedish mystery, this one by Kjell Eriksson (and from the FKCC collection). I thought it was a better read than “Sun Storm,” and I enjoyed a little brain candy. But I think I’m done with the Swedish mystery genre for the moment — my list of other reading, for review and for the upcoming seminar, is just too long. Fortunately the next is a combo: Tony Horwitz’s new book, “A Voyage Long and Strange,” about European interactions in the New World between Columbus and the Pilgrims. “Confederates in the Attic” is one of my all-time favorite nonfiction books, so I’m hoping Horwitz is on form with this one.