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Swann's Way
Marcel Proust, Lydia Davis
Norman Rush
The Unknown University
Roberto Bolaño, Laura Healy
Postmodern Belief: American Literature and Religion since 1960 (20/21)
Amy Hungerford
The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays
James Wood
Prisoners - Bill Ripley

In a confused state and while considering what to read next, all the while considering how long it’s taken to inch my way slowly toward my 2013 reading goal, it occurred to me that I might, in fact, kill three birds with a single stone, or book as the case may be, or actually is.

Looking through the stacks and shelves of unread titles, trying to determine which might be accomplished quickly, for some unknowable reason Prisoners reared its ugly head—and it is ugly, the cover and the content—but the content is ugly differently, I’ll get back to that.

First things first, the three birds with a single book thing—rechecking GR to determine why I’d acquired Prisoners in the first place, I realized it was because of an NR recommendation. A little more checking, and I see the title listed in the BURIED Book Group (stone 1), and by incredible good luck, the author wrote only this single title (Completist—stone 2), and it looked as though it would read very quickly (stone 3, progress on the reading goal). How nice for me. Except…

…this is not one of those pretty books—resplendent with the beautiful, poetic language I’ve been lucky enough to have found so much of. Incredible language usage, yes, startling images, yes, dialogue that characterizes better than so much prose I’ve seen. But ugly: violent characters, drug-addled characters, bigoted characters, sexist characters—a heap of ugly. But…BUT… Ugly done so darn well. (I said I’d get back to that ugliness business)

John Hawkes, with direction and discernible plot. Cormac McCarthy, with a sense of humor. Hunter S. Thompson, if he’d written a novel. Burroughs-y. It worked for me.

If you’re lucky enough to find a copy, check it out—don’t buy it, necessarily, but check it out. Or better, buy it and give it to someone who will like it.

4.something stars, not to beat a dead … dog, and there is a dead dog. No quotes from this one; it just wouldn’t seem right.