What I’m reading

Ongoing
À la recherche du temps perdu (translating it here)

2020
Motherhood by Sheila Heti. “How wonderful to tread an invisible path, where what matters most can hardly be seen.”
Gore Capitalism by Sayak Valencia. “The discourse of the new pharmacopornographic capitalism becomes interesting and daring in its consideration of the body as an eternally desirous, stimulated, interconnected and medicated apparatus.”
Writing on Drugs by Sadie Plant. “All psychoactive drugs contain chemicals that allow them to pass as the brain’s neurotransmitters, mimicking their chemical structures and behaviors so well that the brain’s receptors accept them as its own.”
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann. “We are two women who adore one another and who know about being gentle and affectionate.”
Black Wave by Michelle Tea. “It is so hard for a queer person to become an adult.”
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. “But her course was too purely reasonable not to contain the germs of rebellion.”
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. “‘Your phone is in a Tupperware container floating in the tub,’ Reva yelled from the bathroom.”
Insel by Mina Loy. “The first I saw of this pathetically maimed celebrity were the tiny fireworks he let off in his eyes when offered a ham sandwich.” “‘You walk so weirdly,’ I said. ‘Are you one of those surrealists who have taken up black magic?'”
Candy by Mian Mian. “A cat rolls off the windowsill, its eyes moving, like a big stack of data.” “Saining went out to the suburbs of Beijing with a pair of scissors and cut a large quantity of marijuana and brought it back here.”
The Black Notebooks: an interior journey by Toi Derricote. “Slowly I am changing , like something touched with love must change from the inside, like rot changes one, or the discovery of one’s soul.”
The Hundreds by Lauren Berlant and Kathleen Stewart. “The ordinary is an ocean that moves for the lucky, whose ridiculousness remains a secret so open that it remains a secret.”
The Grave on the Wall by Brandon Shimoda. “If we marked every death—not even yet a grave—with a mound, the earth would be covered in mounds. The mounds would act as impassive prophecy, to which the living grow accustomed, in understanding their bodies, their destinies, death, in general, as being part of the evolving topography of earth.”
Socialist Realism by Tricia Low. “We can only collage utopia from what we know of our empirical universe; it can only be a bricolage of pleasures vividly recalled.”
The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink. “A woodpecker bobbed up in front of us like an apparition, then tucked in its wings and fell away into the core zone.”
Self-Portrait in Green by Marie NDiaye, translated by Jordan Stump. “Marie is a young French girl of her time: understandably, she was hoping for warm feelings and sensitivity.”
10:04 by Ben Lerner. “I remember it, which means it never happened.”
I Love Dick by Chris Kraus. “The week I spent doing post-production at the Wexner Center in Columbus I was sick with Crohn’s Disease, as if my body was negating the illusion of momentum.” “‘Because we rejected a certain kind of critical language, people just assumed that we were dumb,’ the genius Alice Notley said when I visited her in Paris.”
The Signal and the Noise: why so many predictions fail—but some don’t by Nate Silver. “I suppose he could’ve been some sort of fly boy with a lot of time on his hands.” “There is no reason to conclude that the affairs of men are becoming more predictable.”
The Sexual Life of Catherine M. by Catherine Millet. “The reader will understand more readily why I have made such an intimate connection between physical love and a mastering of space when I explain that I was born into a family of five living in a three-room apartment.”
Night Work by Thomas Glavinic. “He never wanted to do anything quickly ever again.”
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. ~audiobook~
Food of the Gods by Terrence McKenna. “Our breach of faith with the symbiotic relationship to the plant hallucinogens has made us susceptible to an ever more neurotic response to each other and the world around us.”
True Stories by Sophie Calle. “I have always liked others to make decisions for me.”
My Life in France by Julia Child w/Alex Prud’Homme. “So—what to do about our wine footage?”
Nilling by Lisa Robertson. “What an economy rejects, we call garbage; what it distributes, we call value. Both are kinds of waste.”
The Baudelaire Fractal by Lisa Robertson. “Because I preferred to survive, I entered the aesthetics of doubt.”
The Unfolding Self: Varieties of Transformative Experience by Ralph Metzner. “Regardless of whether, in these myths, the animal is a real physical creature, a power, an image, or a vision, such stories reflect a very different inner relationship with the creature elements in our psyches: an attitude of respect, of gratitude, of companionship.”
Paris Spleen by Charles Baudelaire, translated by Keith Waldrop
Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami. “The horned owl and I watched over her while she wept.”

2019
In the Fold by Rachel Cusk. “Every time I saw her I remembered with what determination she had engineered the public display of her mistake.”
Ommivores by Lydia Millet. “They were the salesmen of the normal, and they were everywhere.”
There There by Tommy Orange. “Look no further than your last name.”
The Country Life by Rachel Cusk. “I wanted to live by my wits, sleep beneath the stars of solitude, scavenge for scraps: and if in my restless hunger I came across a laden apple tree, no one could blame me for stopping and eating to sustain myself, for who knew when I might next have the chance?”
Exhalation by Ted Chiang ~audiobook~
Kudos by Rachel Cusk. “I looked into his cruel, merry eyes, and I waited for him to stop.”
Outline by Rachel Cusk. “It struck me that some people might think I was stupid, to go out alone on a boat with a man I didn’t know. But what other people thought was no longer of any help to me.”
Transit by Rachel Cusk. “Yet the illusion of meaning recurred, much as you tried to resist it.”
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. ~audiobook~
Ladivine by Marie NDiaye. “She had deep, inexhaustible reserves of coldness inside her.”
The Taiga Syndrome by Cristina Rivera Garza, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine & Aviva Kana. “Then, as if there were nothing left to say and he was suddenly alone, he placed small headphones over his ears.”
Aug 9 — Fog by Kathryn Scanlan. “Started my topsy animal Roy gave me in eve.”
The Emissary by Yoko Tawada. “The night the moon came back, the breasts of young boys grew round and firm while the fragrance of ripe figs wafted up from between their legs, thrown wide apart, their knees raised slightly as they slept.”
How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan. ~audiobook~
Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Leger. “I don’t like young men, I don’t like their bloom, their inflexibility, their spermatic irritability, their soft hands. … I would not want to die in the company of a young man.”
Empty Set by Veronica Gerber Bicecci, trans. Christina MacSweeney. “Billiards was the second sign something was wrong…and I didn’t see that one either.”
Drift by Caroline Bergvall. “Your legs are the legs of legs/your arms are the arms of arms/your face is the face of face/let the tides/when the shaking starts”…
Spain by Caren Beilin. “I took her the witch, like an evil wheel, the kink in the fate.”
The Parking Lot and other feral scenarios by Darcie Dennigan. “Their dream state was the extra-terrestrial platform on which they would stand and from which they would wield the lever and pulley that moved the Earth.”
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark. “It is important to recognise the years of one’s prime, always remember that.”
CENSUS by Jesse Ball. “Is there none who can simply wander alone beneath a sort of cloth tent painted with dreams?”

2018
Aiding & Abetting by Muriel Spark. “In the second half of the twentieth century, in any case, an inherited earldom was not very real.”
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. “I told you that you would like it on the moon.”
Motherwort by Lyric Hunter. “How natural it is to talk.”
The Proof by Agota Kristof. “Peter kisses him lingeringly on the mouth, holding Lucas’s head in his hands.”
The Notebook by Agota Kristof. “Have you seen my eyes?”
Milton a Poem by William Blake. “There is a Moment in each Day that Satan cannot find”…
Maria or, The Wrongs of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft.
The Curfew by Jesse Ball. “Much of his life in the past years was a matter of making it so that things could not get worse.”
The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish. “But this is also to be observed, that none of the Imperial race does use any other drink but Lime-water, or water in which Lime-stone is immerged; their meat is nothing but Fowl of several sorts, their recreations are many, but chiefly Hunting.”
The End of Something by Kate Greenstreet. “There are only so many stories. Maybe twelve.”
The Nature of Things by Lucretius
The Time of the Doves by Mercè Rodoreda. “A shadow flew out of the peach tree: a bird. And a little cloud of dust fell into the courtyard from one of the back porches.”
The Slow Professor by Barbara K Seeber and Maggie Berg. I wrote a little about it here.
Floating Notes by Babak Lakghomi. “Coffee shops are among the places that I call myself Bob.”
Assignment in Brittany by Helen MacInnes. “If he were to keep silent, with his brows down and his lips tightly drawn, she would probably read into his expression the emotions he ought to be feeling.”
Pure Hollywood by Christine Schutt. “The Hedges did not stay for dessert.”
The Marvelous Bones of Time by Brenda Coultas. “I am a small human, so small that my underpants come up to my armpits.”
Double Teenage by Joni Murphy. “This is a spell for getting out of girlhood alive.”
Potted Meat by Steven Dunn. “He gives me the Banana Red and says, A little afternoon refreshment, good sir.”
Slab by Selah Saterstrom. “I have a shitload of friends, and we like to party.”
The First Stone by Helen Garner. “On a day when you don’t feel personally at its mercy, the discourse of power is seductive. It is worldly. It enlists and flatters you.”
I’m So Fine by Khadijah Queen. “I want to stop reacting and keep creating and to do that maybe I need a new kind of hijab that makes me safer unseen, free of both sound and adornment. I could use that kind of safety.”
The Spare Room by Helen Garner. “She tilted her head, stretched her lips, and there it was again, plastered across her face like latex — the smile.”
Stories by Helen Garner. “His passivity engulfed women.”
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro. “One can only wish these young people well.”
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. “Even the names of those who walk hound puppies are familiar to me.”
The Strange Case of Rachel K by Rachel Kushner. “Writers who have rejected logic and science, those galloping horses, take a different path, through coincidence, the cunning of reason, and mystical signs pointing in the direction that is to be taken.” “She had longings as well, but they weren’t an illness to be cured.”
The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner. “I took their rage and negotiated myself into its fabric. I fused my sadness over something private to the chorus of their public lament.” … “The answer is not coming.”
Trip by Tao Lin
Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson
Oaxaca Journal by Oliver Sacks
D is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton
DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin. “Perhaps it now occurs to him that in this need to establish himself in relation to his past he is most American, that this depthless alienation from oneself and one’s people is, in sum, the American experience.”
A Greater Music by Bae Suah, translated by Deborah Smith. “The real issue, perhaps, was that everything Sumi knew or believed, she’d learned from the media.”
C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton
B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Dark Ecology by Timothy Morton
Sidewalks by Valeria Luiselli, translated by Christina MacSweeney
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
Bloodchild & Other Stories, 2nd ed., Octavia Butler

2017
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion
The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
Simply Separate People, Two by Lynn Crawford
Garments Against Women by Anne Boyer
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
I Am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin & Raoul Peck
A Dialogue on Love by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
Land of Love and Ruins by Oddny Eir
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism by Kristin Dombek
Lost at Sea by Jon Ronson
Shankus & Kitto: A Saga by Lynn Crawford (Ditto Ditto)
Dear Cyborgs by Eugene Lim
What Love Is / and what it could be by Carrie Jenkins
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
My Private Property by Mary Ruefle (Wave Books)
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Spook Country by William Gibson
Sonata in K by Karen An-Hwei Lee (Ellipsis Press)
Pattern Recognition by William Gibson
Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonders by Lawrence Weschler
The Door by Magda Szabo
Citizen by Claudia Rankine
Uncountry by Yanara Friedland (Noemi Press)