- 11/22/63 by Stephen King
- Doctor Who - Shada by Douglas Adams by way of Gareth Roberts
- Blockade Billy by Stephen King
- Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel
- Cobra: Son of the Snake by Mike Costa and Antonio Fuso
- The World of Flashpoint Featuring Superman by various
- Insane City by Dave Barry
- The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman
- Cave of the Dark Wind by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
- Batman and Robin Vol. 2 - Pearl by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
- The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
- War of the Green Lanterns by Geoff Johns and various
- The Black Album by Hanif Kureishi
- Starman Omnibus Vol. 6 by James Robinson and Peter Snejbjerg
- Fanon by John Edgar Wideman
But again, a lot of this was easy to read quickly because a lot of it was just very good, and very easy reading. Crying of Lot 49 was a short read but it took a while, as your better literature (not books in general, but what would typically be called literary fiction) is apt to do. The writing becomes more involved. You need to concentrate a little more, with far less nonsense going on that flows from sentence to sentence, page to page, words connecting in such a way that leaves you thinking as you read rather than just knowing that you're being taken for a wild ride.
And that was the way it was with Black Album, and Fanon, as well. These are reads that even if they take days or a week still feel as if they're taking a month if not longer, not in a bad way, but as if you're living with it and not just watching it pass by. The books I don't like to read, they're the ones that are a part of the landscape that I'm not particularly interested in. I'm someone who likes to look at the world around him, but there's always a necessary filter, otherwise you'd go mad noticing everything.
So the month was a combination of the stuff I really love to read, mind-expanding and also simply enjoyable reading. I even got to read another Douglas Adams! Sort of! Adams wrote a little bit of Doctor Who, and a little bit of it got lost along the way, remembered it was falling or something, and recently the kind Mr. Roberts decided to complete it for us. Since I'm someone who settled the Homer controversy for himself by deciding that it ultimately didn't matter who Homer was or how responsible he was for what we read today of the Trojan War and the journey home for Odysseus, just so long as we acknowledge that he was incredibly important in preserving a long tradition, I don't mind seeing a favorite author become a legacy carried on by someone else. This isn't to say that I think the creator of anything isn't important, or that we can blithely slap anyone's name on anything (the way some people feel about Shakespeare, although I argue the man was the man, and anyone who says differently has no idea how art really comes about), but that in preserving a name and its legacy, we preserve a part of the culture that's every bit as important as what that person may or may not have contributed.
Confused yet? You just haven't read enough of me. By the way, all of these books have lovely, full-sized write-ups at my Good Reads feed.
So if I were to choose only one of these books to write about (again), which would they be? I'll cheat again and choose the one I'm currently reading, which would be Fanon, naturally.
Fanon is kind of based on the life, or perhaps simply the legacy, of Frantz Fanon, who might be considered the pioneer of the revolutionary '60s. Author John Wideman has written very much a stream-of-consciousness novel out of the impact Fanon continues to have on his life. Sometimes it's straight-up metafiction, with Wideman interposing his perspective on the story he's writing, the character he's created and intends to follow. Sometimes it's really just whatever Wideman feels like writing about. It's very much the kind of book you will read if you've got patience as a reader, don't just want a straight story but rather are willing to enjoy the journey the author sets you on, no matter the shape it takes. It's one that begs for some concentration. That's what I find fascinating about not only reading but writing.
(And for the record, part of what's bothered me about blogging is that I stumbled into a whole community that doesn't seem to understand any of that. That is another topic, but let me just emphasize: I will never champion something or someone just because I want to champion that someone, but because I believe in the work, in the words themselves. It's not the story, but rather the way it's told. Anyone could tell a version of any story, and think they're clever simply for having written something, but writing is more than the art of telling a story, just as reading is more than the art of following a story. If you don't have an honest-to-god reaction to the story, then the result is a failure. It's not a matter of support. It's a matter of preserving a tradition. No one ever listened to someone tell a story badly.)
So while I ride the wild beast of Wideman's Fanon, I anticipate more books on my Reading List, and even the odd diversions elsewhere. In July I'll be reading another Good Reads listing I received in the mail, Michael Stutz's Circuits of the Wind trilogy, and then hopefully reach the string of Star Trek books I'll be permitting myself to read after having long since sworn off Star Trek books. I used to love them. Practically read nothing but them. But after a certain point, I stopped trusting them. I read too many bad ones. I became so selective that I talked myself out of them entirely. But a few years ago, I started seeing that there might be some good ones still in that line. And so I'll be seeing if I was right. And maybe that'll be the topic for next time.