During this Lame Duck season of COVID time, I have written comparatively little of my own work, but the countertops and shelves and even the floors of my living space have been overrun by layered rectangular worlds, breathing quietly in their thought nests. Some of my readings have been the work of my friends, some new friends, some old—some new books, some older. The sharing of books, this time of explosive reading, including R.O. Kwon’s explosive The Incendiaries, with admiration for the construction of her story, for the insight into character.
Before that, one of the many plays of Lucy Wang—Junk Bonds: the marriage of setting with character, the method of carrying the back-story, when to drop it, how to maintain forward motion, and tethering to setting, to the making of meaning—but maintaining the offering, reconnecting with the reader, ensuring her engagement. How similar these two books—Wang’s by way of her magnificent dialogue—as if scalpel cut, the compression, her words carrying the weight of a propulsive story of characters driven by an ambition bordering on deadly, that will define them—or especially in Kwon’s case kill them.
Among the others, a finished Bluest Eye, Morrison’s first that I’d never read, and—speaking of scalpel-cut words—my slow dance with the exquisite poetry of Lynn Emanuel, in Then, Suddenly—, not to mention the Jill Lepore tome I’ve been carrying around for months, These Truths: a History of the United States, so helpful in assessing, providing a brilliant lens through which to view this dark time, my pen currently nestled up to the spine: on either side, passages about Victoria Woodhull, about Frederick Douglass.
The Incendiaries by R. O. Kwon. Riverhead Books, July 2019.
Junk Bonds by Lucy Wang. Original Works Publishing, August 2014.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Vintage Books, May 2007.
Then Suddenly— by Lynn Emanuel. University of Pittsburgh Press, September 1999.
These Truths by Jill Lepore. W. W. Norton, October 2019.
Reviewer bio: Geri Lipschultz has published in New York Times, Ms. Magazine, the Toast, Black Warrior Review, College English and Pearson’s Literature: Introduction to Reading and Writing.