Books I Read This Month - October 2013

No Animals We Could Name by Ted Sanders

This is a collection of short stories by the winner of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Bakeless Prize. Overall, this is a spectacular collection. My favorites would have to be the three-part story, "Airbag," and the story, "Putting the Lizard to Sleep." When I first started reading, I was incredibly annoyed at the passive voice in the first and second stories. However, halfway through the second one, "Flouder," I got an idea for a short story that would work perfectly with the slow pace and extended moments of passive voice, so it's not all bad, apparently. Excellent voice and unique observations make this collection a great read for literary-minded readers and writers.

Saints and Sinners by Edna O'Brien

I have been reading a lot of short stories to help hone my own craft and to prepare for an MFA Creative Writing program, so I read this collection this month as well. I'll be honest, I wasn't too fond of this one. The characters were great and relatable, and sad in their human way, which is the goal of literary fiction, but sometimes the prose seemed a bit drab, though perhaps it was just in comparison to the book I read just before it.

The House at the End of Hope Street by

This book is girly, romancey, supernaturally, light and fluffy, and generally not very ... me. But somehow I found it charming and could not put it down. This is likely because of the strong main character, who I could relate to quite a lot. Problems I had with it: written in the present tense, except for flashbacks, character perspective changes pretty much every page, overdone use of dead literary figures as the main characters support and inspiration. But somehow, I really don't know how, I enjoyed it.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

Spectacular. Gorgeous. I can't rave enough. It's not that there were any amazing themes that really resonated with me (which is the reason why I usually feel this passionate about a good book), but I cannot count the number of times I got caught up in Karen Russell's prose. Beautiful writing style, absolutely original premises, fully fleshed-out and rich characters, settings, and worlds, and syntax to die for. Every other page, I found myself thinking, "I wish I could write like this ... I want to write like this."