Three Books I Read In One Sitting

19 Jun

I’m supposed to be studying for my Boards 24/7, but I went a little overboard and put the entirety of the 2016 NYT Notable Books of the Year list on hold at the library and now I have to read all these books before their return date. Whoopsies.

But it’s not procrastinating if you read them really quickly, right? In general I am not a speed reader (we leave that to ThisIsYourLifeNowKef), but these three books sucked me in and didn’t let go until I finished them. Since I should be studying, I’ll just give you the quick and dirty–ask me about my full thoughts sometime after August 1st or so.

When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

What happens when a young neurosurgeon becomes the patient? This posthumously-published memoir of Kalanithi’s struggle to maintain meaning as he faced the end of his life is stunningly-written and deeply resonant. The book is worth reading just for the final paragraph, which has to be among the most touching words ever put to page.

The End of Eddy – Edouard Louis

I’ve spent more time talking and thinking about this book than I did reading it– the autobiographic novel is less than 200 pages but manages to tackle (among other things): socially-prescribed expectations of masculinity, class-based systemic violence, and resiliency in the face of abuse, isolation, and neglect. Many have called The End of Eddy a French version of Hillbilly Elegy, but I resist the comparison.  Certainly, The End of Eddy aims to connect the personal injustices waged against its gay protagonist with the massive marginalization and humiliation of his working-class family in a factory town, and its US-release was timed with the rise and near-election of a dangerous right wing politician (Le Pen), two similarities to Hillbilly Elegy that make drawing the parallel clean and neat. But Eddy has none of the suggestions for redemption of Elegy— like the author/main character, Eddy’s readers are left weighing the balance of blame and forgiveness for the family and neighbors who torment him.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers – Max Porter

Honestly, I haven’t the slightest idea how to describe this book, but if Gregor woke up a bug on the day of his mother’s funeral, Metamorphosis might have been a it like GITTWF. We meet a father and his two boys just after the sudden death of their wife/mother, and large parts of the book are spent in sparse-but-touching observations of grief and the act of living after the life you once knew is gone. Somehow, an allegoric crow borne of Ted Hughes’ (of Sylvia Plath fame) mind becomes the shepherd of their grieving process, and even manages to illuminate their most poignant moments. To be honest, I couldn’t make much sense of the Crow, but I loved the rest of the book so much I didn’t care. If someone knows a sophomore Literature major, I’d love them to close read it for me and let me know what to make of it.

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