May Reads

My main reading material this past month was student work- I graded like maniac. I managed to squeeze in three books, which still seems like a victory despite being pretty meager. Now that the grading is done I hope I can make up for lost time. Here's what I read:

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara 
328 pages
This is the true story of Michelle's McNamara' attempt to solve the case of the East Area Rapist aka The Gold State Killer. McNamara pieces together clues old and new, interviews those who were involved, scoots her way down many dark holes on the internet, and returns to multiple crime scenes. In so many words: she was obsessed. McNamara writes the grim, horrifying details of the rapes and murders, describing an absolute monster of a man. Unfortunately, while investigating and writing the book she unexpectedly died, so it was finished by her colleagues and husband, Patton Oswalt. Also, on a bittersweet note, the Golden State Killer was captured a month or so ago, something McNamara would have loved to witness.

Verdict: I was captivated by the first 2/3 of this book, but the whole thing started to get a little tiring to me by then. I knew the case wasn't going to reach any real conclusion, which also tarnished it a little for me, admittedly. If true-crime is your thing you will probably love it, though, as it is well-written and thoroughly researched.

You Think It, I'll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld
223 pages
This collection of short stories focuses on a variety of women, most of which are approaching middle-age, examining the role relationships and sexuality play in their lives. There's one story about a women who considers having a one-night stand in order to get her driver's license back, another about a woman who had a past relationship with a popular food/lifestyle blogger who then publicly comes out as bisexual, and another about a young woman who volunteers at homeless shelter and fears becoming an old spinster. 

Verdict: This is a perfect "beach" read, since the stories are short, fairly interesting, and offer various perspectives on what it's like to be a woman these days. As a whole, though, the collection was particularly spectacular or memorable, though. The writing was good, but not great, the stories interesting, not amazing, and the short plots were well-constructed, but not genius. I recommend it, still, just because Sittenfeld is still quite talented and it feels like a good female read without being chic lit. 

Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala
142 pages
This novella is summed up perfectly in one quote, said by the Agu, the boy soldier. The young man says, "All we are knowing is that, before the war we are children and now we are not." This is the heartbreaking story of a boy who is taken by the enemy in an unknown feuding land in Africa, and is made into a soldier. He is made to kill violently, and must endure sexual abuse, starvation, and emotional trauma. 

Verdict: This is definitely not an easy book to get through, given the subject matter, but it is so important. It's so easy to look at situation in other countries with judgement and contempt, but books like these offer us a different perspective. Agu did terrible things, but he was just a brainwashed boy who was trying to survive. Does that make it right? No, but it helps us understand. Iweala's narrative voice utilizes the stream-of-consciousness style, ensuring the reader become as acquainted as possible with Agu.

693 pages 

1 comment:

  1. I just bought You Think It, I'll Say It Today! I've read everything by Curtis Sittenfeld and she is so talented, although some times she does better than others. Looking forward to it.