Books Bought, January 2013
‘I Found This Funny,’ edited by Judd Apatow
Books Read, January 2013
‘The Art Of Political Murder,’ Francisco Goldman
‘Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat,’ Hal Herzog
‘Consider The Lobster,’ David Foster Wallace
‘Solar,’ Ian McEwan
‘Slow Man,’ J.M.Coetzee
‘40 Stories,’ Donald Barthelme
‘The Family Fang,’ Kevin Wilson
‘Bossypants,’ Tina Fey
‘Freedom,’ Jonathan Franzen
‘Open Veins Of Latin America,’ Eduardo Galeano
‘Mrs.Dalloway,’ Virgina Woolf
‘Musicophilia,’ Oliver Sacks
After two months slaving away three nights a week in the lake-side paradise of San Pedro La Laguna, I finally ventured further than 20-minutes from the converted tuk-tuk garage I call home to see a little more of the country. Four days later, having explored just about every inch of the nine-by-nine gridded, gorgeous former Spanish colonial UNESCO World Heritage town of Antigua, I came to the following conclusions: hand-making (and subsequently eating) your own chocolates is one of the greatest past-times on earth; sifting through tonnes of second-hand clothing on tables being sold for anything from 1quetzal, (8p/12cents), and finding a complete Boy Scout Uniform from Den 2 of the Rochester, NY Boy Scout branch is one of the funniest things on earth; and Guatemala is suffering from a severe shortage of good second-hand books.
The latter accounts for my grand total of one solitary book bought last month, (a McSweeney‘s compilation of comic writing unearthed in Antigua which is one of the few by my favourite publisher which I didn’t already own, and may therefore, despite its weight, make the return trip to the UK with me in May), although with a respectable 12 books polished off to start the year, at least I am making some progress in my impossible mission to finish all of the books I own, preferably before I die.
The list was, I feel, admirably varied: some local flavour with the depressing true story of decades-long Guatemalan national oppression, dictatorship and corruption, (‘The Art Of Political Murder‘), and the depressing true story of centuries-long Latin American oppression, dictatorship and corruption by the West, (Galeano‘s seminal ‘Open Veins Of Latin America); a lighter read in the form of the much-recommended ‘The Family Fang‘; my first David Foster Wallace, (in one of his essay compilations); and some short stories, (from the again much-recommended Donald Barthelme, truly surreal and often entertaining).
However, this was mainly a month to deepen my knowledge of some past favourites. I finally followed up my enjoyment of his breakthrough novel ‘The Corrections‘ by reading (and loving) Franzen‘s ‘Freedom‘; knocked off the slightly underwhelming latest by (one of my favourites) Ian McEwan; and finally tracked down a Coetzee which wasn’t ‘Disgrace,’ (one of the best, and most harrowing books I’ve ever read, sadly not quite lived up to by the Paolo Coelho-esque ‘Slow Man‘).
Entering February, I have 10 unread books on my Guatemalan book-shelf: once they are all ingested in the next 4-6 weeks, I hope to take all of the books I have with me and do something about the dire second-hand book situation in San Pedro by opening my own bookshop. Feel free to drop by El Barrio, anytime from 5pm on Monday, Wednesday or Friday, to pick up anything in the ‘Books Read’ section you’ve seen over the past two months which you’ve taken a shine to.
And then, I can also start work on finally getting my novel out to you…