*NOTE: These Book of the Month Entries were my first regular foray into reviewing. So the books summarzied here unfortunately do not have any independent, self-contained reviews.
...is pretty much a no-brainer. Swann's Way by Marcel Proust was by far one of the most challenging and ultimately satisfying reads in a long time. It wound up taking about 3 weeks (1 in Jan, 2 in Feb), so I balanced out the month with a few quick hits:
- Old Man's War by John Scalzi - immensely satisfying SF work in the vein of classic Heinlein like Starship Troopers (the book, not the movie), about a 70 yer old man who buries his wife and signs up for the army. Scalzi popped up on my radar unexpectedly after Wil Wheaton raved about him on his own blog. I'm definitely going back to check out some more of his work.
- The Spooky Art: Thoughts on Writing by Norman Mailer - I've said it loud and said it proud for years: I love Norman Mailer. He's been in my top 10 authors list ever since I picked up Tough Guy's Don't Dance and The Naked and the Dead in college oh, 14 years ago now. After reading The Executioner's Song he became my overwhelming obsession for a while. He's that good. He's now one of the few authors whose remaining work I parcel out slowly, savoring each book like a fine wine you know will soon disappear. The Spooky Art is not so much a manual for writers as much as it is a reminisce of a writer's life. It has tips to be sure, but the main focus is on the memories and feelings that surrounded Mailer during the writing of some of his biggest works. His latest, Castle in the Forest, sits on my shelf beckoning, beckoning...
- Like Love by Ed McBain - Wanted to finish up with 4 books for the month, and what better way to do that than with a quick stop over at the 87th Precinct? What looks like an apparent lover's suicide pact turns out to be much more for Carella, who's still reeling from failing to talk a jumper off a building. Not as complex as some of the larger novels (at 154 pages, how could it), it's a quick stab to the gut, and another reason why McBain in his prime had a way with language that shames more literary types.
In the meantime, currently reading Eyes on the Prize by Juan Williams in an attempt to become more acquainted with the events that transpired during the American Civil Rights Movement. The focus on some of the lesser known heroes of the movement is fascinating, and I think I'm starting to fall into a spell of reading nothing but books on this subject for a while, so we'll see what happens.