Welcome back to Teresa’s Bookshelf! It’s been a while since this has been a regular feature. But just because I haven’t been writing about it doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. At the end of my last post, I mentioned that “up next” on The Bookshelf was Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, and that I was “currently reading” Wild Nights!: Stories About the Last Days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway by Joyce Carol Oates. I’ve read those SO long ago that I couldn’t do a proper review at this point. However, here’s the short version of what I thought of those books, just in case anyone’s keeping track.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – I thought this was a harrowing, inevitable, and completely appropriate ending to The Hunger Games trilogy. What impressed me most about the entire series, culminating in this book, is that Collins never gives her characters what’s easy or palatable. Everything Katniss goes through is eerily close to how something like her situation might play out in real life, warts and all. The deaths and injuries that occur are not merely for shock value, but are integral to the kind of story this is, and deeply meaningful to Katniss. I love that Mockingjay doesn’t give Katniss a happy ending or a sad ending. Or an ending at all. It gives her a new chapter as an adult, a clean slate, to do with as she pleases.
Wild Nights!: Stories About the Last Days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway by Joyce Carol Oates – To be completely honest, I prefer Joyce Carol Oates the short story author to Joyce Carol Oates the novelist. I’ve only read two of her many novels, and while I enjoyed them intellectually, for their craft, I didn’t enjoy them in that soft squishy place in my heart where books are beloved. Whenever I read her short stories, however, be they in The New Yorker, or in a collection, they always make me feel something. Wild Nights! is not only some of her best short work, but it’s one of my favorite short story collections of all time. Each story shows us each author in a completely honest (albeit fictional) way. They are none of them canonized or demonized. Oates is wonderful at wearing these writers’ voices and showing us the good and the bad, making us feel for the characters she’s created. I think that if any of these writers were still alive, they would choose these stories as their eulogies for themselves! Wild Nights! also contains one of my favorite sci-fi stories ever, “EDickinsonRepliluxe,” which tells the story of Emily Dickinson as A.I. years in the future; a future where people can have cylon-like dead celebrities live with them in their own homes. I don’t usually read books more than once – why reread things when there are so many other books I haven’t read yet? – but this one will be getting a reread in a couple of years. The stories are that good.
Well, that’s it for now! I’ll be playing catch-up with my reviews for a while, but from the next Bookshelf post on, each will be getting its own review. Hopefully, you’ll encounter a title that interests you and give it a read yourself! I hope so. And if you do, do me a favor and buy a copy from an indie bookstore, won’t you? Support your local bookshops. They need you.
Next on Teresa’s Bookshelf: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Currently Reading: Embassytown by China Miéville and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susannah Clarke