Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.


Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Monday, January 01, 2007

A New Year, with resolutions

I have not made New Year resolutions since I was an overweight teenager. Why set myself up to fail? Life is difficult enough. But these are blog-related, therefore interesting and easy to keep.

1. Keep a list of books read.

Everybody else--Ed, Darby, the nice woman at Pages Turned--does this seemingly as a matter of course. They were all able to post about their reading achievements and failures this year. I feel like a newborn animal from my husband's "The Life of Mammals" video set, stumbling to get my feet under me and get the hang of walking while all the other baby kangaroos play-fight.

2. Keep a list of books I'd like to read.

Are you horrified I haven't? Until this blog business started I either kept track of writers I loved (Ann Patchett's new book will be out in Fall. Jane Smiley's--woo-hoo!--next month) or just wandered around the bookstore, randomly picking up books. I will not abandon this method entirely, as it leads to some rewarding finds, but the more time I spend in the blogosphere, the more I realize a great deal of the good stuff is coming from smaller publishers. Or is unsung by the big guys. I mean, I knew this, but not until I read the Underrated Writer's List did it really hit home. I'd never heard of most the writers listed therein. Nor had I heard of Scarlett Thomas until Ed all but threw The End of Mr. Y over the San Francisco Bay at me.

Which leads me to something most of you already know (the baby kangaroo is catching up ...)--the literary world is cleaving into the old and new guards, with all the pains one might expect. But the interesting stuff, for the most part, is happening here in the 'sphere. This is not to say good work doesn't appear from the old school publishing/reviewing machine, though increasingly that seems a happy accident rather than the norm.

I could throw in my two cents here about the divide, the way print editors take potshots at litbloggers and vice versa, but the truth is the internet ain't going away, and as Darby so aptly put it about Tannenhaus: "You keep making what should be your primary audience hate you. Way to be!"

Eventually some sort of merger will occur...not because we'll all suddenly join hands and sing "Give Peace a Chance," but because some nineteen-year-old will figure out how to make lots of money from what to him/her is an obvious solution. Then we'll all lean on our canes and talk about the good old days before Sony Betamaxes and Commodore 64s and email.

On that happy note, here is the first list of 2007:

1. Nadine Gordimer: Get a Life

I've never read any of her work beyond the occasional New Yorker short story. Where have I been? I started this last night. Great book. Great writer. More on this soon.

2. Sheila Heti: The Middle Stories.

I was all excited about this book but Ed warned me off it. Now it keeps migrating to the bottom of the pile.

3. Margaret Drabble: The Seven Sisters

I've read most of A.S. Byatt but none of sister Margaret. Time to get with it!

4. Ian McEwan: Saturday

Again, the only McEwan I've read is in the New Yorker. (Shameful blush)

5. Susan Choi: American Woman.

I was looking for Dana Spiotta's Eat the Document but found this instead. Another riff on the Hearst abduction.

Happy 2007!


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