First, I’ve had a few reviews published elsewhere in the last months. In February, I reviewed Marie NDiaye’s Self-Portrait in Green for Necessary Fiction, which I enjoyed very much and was glad to spend the time thinking about it in depth. Another was of Robert Dessaix’s book What Days Are For, which I reviewed for Bookslut, and the last is Minae Mizumura’s The Fall of Language in the Age of English, which I reviewed for The Quarterly Conversation. These last two books were satisfying to think and write about, even though my reviews of both are mixed (to different degrees).

I have also, of course, been following the Tournament of Books closely, and was disappointed to see that judge Victor LaValle chose Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation over my beloved Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill. I didn’t agree with LaValle’s assessment of Offill’s book, but he does do a good job writing about his decision, and it’s a decision I can respect even if I don’t like it. I listened to Annihilation on audio and enjoyed the experience very much, but it didn’t measure up to Offill’s accomplishment. LaValle was dissatisfied with Offill’s ending, but for me, the ending was pretty much beside the point; the point was the sharp, incisive, witty writing. But hope for this book hasn’t entirely died, as two books that have been eliminated come back in the zombie round, the two books with the most reader votes.

I was also a little disappointed that Evie Wyld’s novel All the Birds, Singing lost, although I haven’t read its competitor, Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings. I loved the Wyld novel, which was haunting, both harsh and beautiful. The other match-ups from last week I didn’t have strong feelings about. I’m looking forward to seeing what people make of Jesse Ball’s Silence Upon Begun this coming week, though, as I recently read it and loved it. It’s an unusual book, based on a real story, or at least that’s what it says, with letters, transcripts of interviews, transcripts of interrogations, and other documents telling the story. It also contains many photographs that add to the atmosphere and mood. It’s beautifully done, and I hope it does well in the tournament.

Finally, I promised a while back to follow up on my post about using Scribd, a subscription ebook and audiobook service. I’ve been happy with it so far, and it’s worth the money, which is something like $9 a month. For that, you can read as many ebooks and listen to as many audiobooks as you want to. At first I found the audiobooks a little difficult to get downloaded and a little buggy, but more recent experiences have gone well. I listened to three books from the tournament on Scribd, All the Birds, Singing; Annihilation; and Everything I Never Told You. I have more books and audiobooks than I can possibly read any time soon set aside in my “library” on the site, so there are plenty of good books to choose from. Overall, it’s a nice addition to my reading options, which … well, I probably don’t need more reading options, but I want them and am glad to have them!


Filed under Books

6 responses to “Updates

  1. I loved Marie NDiaye’ 3 Women, so now I am intrigued by her Self-portrait. I want to check it out!


  2. Too bad about Dept of Speculation! Station Eleven lost too which I was disappointed about. But there is always the zombie round. Fingers crossed!


  3. Rohan Maitzen

    What an interesting range of books you’ve been reviewing! I think you kind of talked me out of trying the Dessaix (though I suppose it’s not quite in my wheelhouse anyway). I’m really interested in the Offil now, though. I can never quite get caught up in the TOB because I don’t read enough immediately current fiction — it all feels too “now now now” to me in a way. But I check in sometimes and always find the exchanges remarkably passionate, including in the comments.


    • Thank you! I’d been meaning to read Dessaix for a while, and I wonder if I just picked the wrong book. I’m still open to reading something earlier of his, although I will abandon it if it goes in the same direction as What Days Are For. I wonder if there is anyone moderating the comments over at the TOB. Surely there is? Because they are so good and I haven’t seen them devolve into ugliness (although I only read them occasionally).


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