June missteps and (no) milestones

Can’t say anything I read this month really grabbed me. Of course, that might be the weather distracting me. Plus, it was another one of those months where I would pick up a book, read a couple pages and go look for something else. There were two, though, that I got a ways in before bailing on.

I seem to be having a streak with highly praised books — and not a good one. The latest is A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Plava. The book hit all sorts of last year’s “Best Of” lists and had plenty of praise. The novel looks at the life of a Colombian public defender in Manhattan. The book clearly provides insights into the criminal court system but the roughly 20 percent of the novel I read spent as much time on digressions as moving forward. When you consider the book is nearly 700 pages long, you want to become immersed early and have the time fly by because you are so invested. Here, I felt more like I was wandering in chaos. The book also reinforced something I’ve been suspecting for a while. Although I’ve never read any Thomas Pynchon, if someone invokes Pynchon in a review (or, even worse, calls a book “Pynchonesque), odds are I won’t like it.

The other victim this month was a nonfiction work, Michael J. Totten’s Where the West Ends: Stories from the Middle East, the Balkans, the Black Sea, and the Caucasus. I’ve always had somewhat of a fascination with the latter three areas. The book is Totten’s account of travels in 13 countries, 11 of which were Communist. And, frankly, the book is interesting. My problem is that in the roughly one-third of the book I read, it too often read like Totten put down a tape recorder when he interviewed people and simply gave us a transcript. Thus, this is one I may not have been entirely fair to and there’s a chance it will pop back up on my Nook sometime down the road.

[I] read books because I love them, not because I think I should read them

Simon Van Booy, “What I Do When I’m Not Writing Books”

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