“If you wanna hear God laugh, try announcing your plans.” -Al Swearengen, ‘Deadwood’
I’ve had such (literary) plans! — but life, kids, a move, work, have blown them out of the water.
But lest you think your devoted moderator of the Military Spouse Book Review has completely lost her edge, descending into a spiral of ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ and drinking Zima while giving herself wonky late-night pedicures that must be erased come morning, rest assured — that is not the case.
I am reading, as ever, and in fact my list is so long that it’s tangling me up a bit. When you are reading a lot of very good stuff, you have to think a while before you can write about it. I am paralyzed by my own riches, like a British explorer trudging through the desert, weighed down by ancient treasure but unwilling to lighten the load.
Let me share some of this wonderful stuff I’ve been reading:
The Arranged Marriage by Jehanne Dubrow. Any military spouse/writer, or longtime reader of this blog, will probably recognize Jehanne’s name — she’s the author of the fantastic poetry collection Stateside, a Navy wife, and a professor at Washington College. Her most recent collection, though slim (as poetry collections tend to be), is worthy of a slow reading and is absolutely riveting. I have been trying to organize my thoughts around it. In typical Dubrow style, many of the poems are homages to other poems, poets, or ideas, and my poor fiction writer’s brain, all pulpy and running on adrenaline, must grapple with such rich and beautiful things.
And now, let me tantalize you with some gorgeous lines:
Sometimes a woman leaves so quickly she cannot pack.
She could stare the whorl from fingertips. Cut him with her eyes.
[Are you kidding me. That is amazing. -Editor]
The room, a dark idea of rooms. And then the
day, a gleaming penknife drawn across the
I’m also reading Love Me Anyway by Tiffany Hawk, another mil spouse/novelist. My mom and I are doing a buddy read, which is terrific fun, but it’s taking forever. Hawk, a former flight attendant herself, tells the tale of two young flight attendants: Emily, who took the job to run from something (an awful husband) and KC, who’s running desperately toward something — her wayward, long-absent father. Hawk is a fantastic storyteller in the old tradition, building, building a multilayered story that brings you ever closer to these women and rooting more intensely for their success with every page. I can’t wait to write about this book and give you my mom’s take on it, too.
I recently finished A Hard and Heavy Thing by Matthew Hefti, former EOD tech-turned-novelist-turned-law-student. What can’t Matthew Hefti do? I don’t even know. But I’ll tell you what he can do: write a novel. A Hard and Heavy Thing is the story of Nick and Levi, two young men who enlist in the Army after 9/11 (and later the National Guard), with devastating consequences. In a fascinating twist, the novel is “written” from Levi to Nick, as an apology, a “love letter,” a suicide note, a personal defense. This book’s out in January so I will be writing more about it then. You can pre-order on Amazon.
Speaking of pre-ordering, Taylor Brown’s Fallen Land, due out Jan. 12th, is one of my favorite books of the year. The tale of a horse thief and a young woman on the run from bounty hunters, Fallen Land is set at the end of the Civil War, amidst the devastation of Sherman’s March to the Sea. It’s action-packed, beautifully written, full of heart and excitement. Fans of Cold Mountain and Cormac McCarthy would do well to order this on Amazon now!
On my to-read shelf: so many books. Brian Turner’s My Life as a Foreign Country. Benjamin Busch’s Dust to Dust. Adrian Bonenberger’s Afghan Post. Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last. Most currently riveting: Claire Vaye Watkins’s Gold Fame Citrus, a post-apocalyptic tale set in water-drained southern California, where the “Mojavs” have been ghettoized, forbidden to emigrate to greener climes. I could pore through this book in one night, but I have discipline, and so I am — like the poor Mojavs — rationing myself. So far, I’m absolutely loving the characters of Luz and Ray (a very well-written veteran) and the little girl, Ig, whom they rescue from a bad situation — but in an illegal fashion that may cause them a heap of trouble. Can’t recommend this book enough!
Last of all, on its way to me now — Icarian Flux, another poetry collection by veteran Colin Halloran. This one’s gotten high praise and Halloran is an accomplished poet, so I cannot wait for this to arrive on my doorstep.