books read in February

I’m not sure how the shortest month of the year became the one in which I read an unlikely number of books, but there it is. These are the books I read in the last twenty-eight days:

Fog by Miguel de Unamuno – A doomed love story about a man infatuated with a woman he sees on the street. In the end, the author enters the story to discuss changing the ending, and the character’s dog gives the eulogy. I liked the metafictional twist.

Acastos by Iris Murdoch – Two Platonic dialogues featuring Socrates, Plato, the earnest youth Acastos, and assorted other stock characters, all discussing key points of Murdoch’s philosophy. Not as off putting as I had feared, but this had sat on my shelf for years before I cracked it open.

The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry – Having enjoyed Lonesome Dove* when I read it last summer (all 900+ pages of it!), I was eager to try something else by McMurtry, and since this one is the first of a series of four novels (thus far), I thought it a good place to start. He certainly has a way with characters, and he can sustain a tone (mostly defeat and despair), but I thought so highly of this that I sent it to a friend.

Platte River by Rick Bass – I’ve read a smattering of Bass over the years, and a friend had suggested I try some of his fiction. Well, I have, and it didn’t happen for me.

Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker – This one was a surprise and a delight. I saw it on the shelf at the used bookstore and the jacket blurb sounded interesting, so I gave it a go. Two friends are joking with a church sexton about a fictitious old woman they make up to troll him. Yet the woman comes to life and wreaks havoc on their lives. The situation gets more and more untenable until the author shows how it can be resolved. Again, the metafictional twist appealed to me.

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson – My third (maybe fourth) time through this classic. Even Anderson admitted the stories and setting were dated, but he did such an fine job telling them that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and likely will again.

Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles – An epistolary novel of a man writing to the airline that has stranded him at O’Hare Airport for a day and a half. It begins as a demand for a refund and goes on to give an account of his dysfunctional life, just as the overbooked and over scheduled airline is dysfunctional.

__________

*McMurtry has said that he regrets writing Lonesome Dove, the work that won him the Pulitzer Prize, since everyone has taken it to be the perfect Western, and his point was to expose the romantic illusions of the genre with the novel. Similarly, Annie Proulx Jane Smiley has said she regrets writing “Brokeback Mountain.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Ramblings Off Topic

2 Comments on “books read in February”


  1. (It was Annie Proulx.) I also love Rick Bass, but also only his nonfiction.

  2. pete29anderson Says:

    Annie Proulx, not Jane Smiley. And I was disappointed with Proulx’s regret – it wasn’t that it wasn’t a great story (which it was) or that she didn’t believe in her characters or her message, but because so many bigoted people hated it.


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