Tag Archives: Hillbilly Elegy

A Brief Detour into Nonfiction

 

9780374156046_p0_v2_s192x300  Flâneuse

After wandering around New York City with Lillian Boxfish in Kathleen Rooney’s novel, Lauren Elkin’s Flâneuse seemed a natural follow-up.  In a series of essays, each targeting a city – Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London, Elkin introduces the concept of the Flâneuse  – a woman who is “determined, resourceful…keenly attuned to the creative potential of the city and the liberating possibilities of a good walk.”  Whether or not you are familiar with each city, her attention to the idiosyncrasies of the neighborhoods connects you to the landscape. As she addresses famous women who have walked the cities – Jean Rhys, Virginia Woolf, and others – a connection between creativity and the dangers of women’s striving for independence in a man’s world emerges.  I have not yet finished the book – had to take time out to take a walk.

9780062300546_p0_v6_s192x300   Hillbilly Elegy

I was determined not to read this book, but too many like-minded friends urged me to try  J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy.   Although Vance’s conversational style makes the book easy to read, the misery detailing the violence, poverty and addiction in poor white communities makes it hard to digest.  So much has been written about the book, both as social commentary and political influence (see reviews in The New Yorker and  major newspapers), but basically the memoir is sad and depressing – despite the author’s rise from poverty to the Marines and finally Yale Law School – yet, raising awareness and asking questions.

61eioJoO+wL._AC_UL160_  The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down

The English translation of Korean Buddhist monk Haemin Sunim’s The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down offers a series of short essays followed by short messages based on his 140 character tweets about faith and mindfulness.  The book reminded me of a gift I received years ago when I was in the throes of career building – Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much.  Open either book at any page to get a short fortune cookie message with advice. Sometimes it is amazingly appropriate.

 

My December Pile of Books

After returning a few books to the library unread, I picked up a whole new pile.  I like having a selection – my personal lending library collection at home. Those I returned unread, for reasons ranging from not liking the cover to not having the time or the inclination to become absorbed in their drama:

  • Joshilyn Jackson’s The Opposite of Everyone
  • Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed
  • Iona Grey’s Letters to the Lost
  • Stephanie Danier’s Sweetbitter

I might try them again later – whenever the mood hits.  Have you read any you think I should revisit?

Books checked out and waiting to be read:

  • Alice Hoffman’s Faithful
  • Marie Benedict’s The Other Einstein
  • A.L. Kennedy’s Serious Sweet
  • J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy
  • Ian McGuire’s North Water
  • Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop Around the Corner
  • Gale Forman’s Leave Me
  • William Trevor’s Love and Summer
  • Jeffrey Archer’s This Was a Man

9781476799209_p0_v3_s192x300 9781492637257_p0_v2_s192x300 9781503936508_p0_v1_s192x300 9780062300546_p0_v6_s192x300 9781627795944_p0_v3_s192x300 9780062467256_p0_v3_s192x300 9781616206178_p0_v5_s192x300 9780143117889_p0_v2_s192x300 9781250061638_p0_v5_s192x300

If you get to any of them before me, let me know how you liked the read.