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May Reading List

Can you believe it’s already May? I’ve been socially distancing since March 13th and have been rather amazed at how fast the days are going by. Granted, my wife and I have our phone/online business to keep us occupied, two dogs to look after, and our individual creative projects, so in some weird ways it doesn’t feel like anything has changed. But, of course, EVERYTHING has changed.

This morning I gathered the books I want to be sure to read this month into a stack and thought I’d list them here for Sunday Salon.

HISTORY

The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York by Matthew Goodman.

I enjoying reading about the 19th Century and really miss going into Manhattan, so this book will scratch two itches. The Sun and the Moon focuses on 1830s NYC and a newspaper hoax. Matthew’s most recent book is The City Game: Triumph, Scandal, and a Legendary Basketball Team. The Book Cougars interviewed Matthew on Episode 95.

MEMOIR

Me & Patsy Kickin’ Up Dusty: My Friendship with Patsy Cline by Loretta Lynn with Patsy Lynn Russell.

One of my first musical loves was Patsy Cline. When I was in grade school my parents gave me a combo radio/cassette player which set me free to discover my own musical tastes.

While dialing around one day, Merle Haggard’s voice caught my ear so I left that station on for awhile. When a Patsy Cline song came on I was mesmerized by her voide. On our next trip to the music store, I bought her greatest hits album.

Through that station, I also heard some Loretta Lynn songs. When weather conditions were right between Nashville and my home in Cicero, IL, I could pick up the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights. I didn’t know Patsy and Loretta were friends until the film based on Lynn’s 1976 memoir, Coal Miner’s Daughter, came out in 1980.

Long story short, I’ve loved both singers since I was a kid and enjoy reading about friendships between women, so Me & Patsy Kickin’ Up Dusty is a must read.

LITERARY CRITICISM

Willa Cather’s Sexual Aesthetics and the Male Homosexual Literary Tradition by John P. Anders.

This one’s been on my radar for some time. I just purchased it through the National Willa Cather Center’s website last week and am really looking forward to it.

Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

In this first full-length study of male homosexuality in Cather’s short stories and novels, John P. Anders examines patterns of male friendship ranging on a continuum from the social to the sexual. He reveals how Cather’s work assumes an unexpected depth and complexity by drawing on both the familiar tradition of friendship literature inspired by classical and Christian texts and a homosexual legacy that is part of, yet distinct from, established literary traditions. 

Anders argues that Cather’s artistic achievement is distinguished by her sexual aesthetics, an elusive literary style inextricably associated with homosexuality. His analysis demonstrates how a homosexual ethos and eros helped Cather develop a sensitivity to human variation and a style to accommodate it and thus became the objective correlative of her art, dramatizing the diversity of human nature as it deepens the mystery of her work.

FICTION

A Small Thing To Want: Stories by Shuly Xóchitl Cawood.

Out today, 5/3/2020! Emily and I talked with Shuly about this new collection of short stories on Episode 100 of the Book Cougars. I read Shuly’s memoir, The Going and Goodbye a few years ago and really enjoyed it.

Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck translated by Susan Bernofsky.

This is the Book Cougars next readalong. We made a short video reminder about it that you can watch here.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.

This is the selection of my IRL book group for May. I read it about twenty years ago and most of the women in the book group have also read it, but we’re all in the mood for more Edith. Last month we read her short story “Xingu.”

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

This was the first novel of Cather’s that I read and it remains one of my all-time favorite novels. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read it. I’m re-reading it, in part, for the Sandy Point Correspondence Club, a new pen pal reading club started by some Cather scholars who want to help make connections between individuals during this time of social distancing and isolation. I’ll post their flyer below. Twitter handle: @SandyPointCC.

That’s my stack of hopefuls for May. Or, as I’ve seen people write on social media, my May May(bes). What’s on your reading list for May?

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3 replies

  1. You’ve got a good mix of genres there Chris.
    Yep the days are moving much faster than you’d expect – I wonder if its because there is no structure to the week any longer? Few diary appointments, exercise classes etc to give us a rhythm??

    • IDK, I feel like I’ve gotten into my own rhythm in some ways…in others I’m a mess (staying up way too late, not eating all that well, etc). However, I’m actually working better without the distractions of going out. I’ve worked primarily from home for a few years now. As much as I miss friends, I also did a lot of what now seems like unnecessary running around. Maybe it’s the disruption itself and striving to find a new daily normal that’s making the time fly. So, yes. 🙂

  2. Wow, looks like you have an excellent reading month ahead, Chris! Lots of variety here, too. I’m sort of enjoying the lack of reading obligations right now (though, of course, I am disappointed all the book groups & events are cancelled) and choosing a book from my large bookcase of to-be-reads! In fact, I get to choose a new book today to read – so many possibilities!

    Enjoy your books this month!

    Sue

    Book By Book

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