Spurred by her recent appearance in the New Yorker's 20 Under 40 anthology, and a general buzz among my co-workers, I picked up an advanced copy of Tea Obreht's The Tiger's Wife. I finally finished it late last night, purposefully reading slower as the last pages approached and the back half of the book grew thinner and thinner. I turned off the lamp and just sat in the dark, thinking about it, re-working each plot point and trying to remember the last time a book really got at me so intensely. The Tiger's Wife is the finest work of magical realism I have read since I greedily poured over Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude in high school. Like Marquez, Obreht packs an embarrassment of riches into her work. Each chapter of the book is like a Russian nesting doll, revealing smaller and more wondrous stories, each character contains multitudes. Esoterica abounds, and every flashback is full of old-world mysticism and ancient rites largely forgotten in our modern times.
Over at Salon.com, Laura Miller wrote an interesting article about the gender gap in literature. Her article is a wonderful mix of hard data and educated guesses, with just a touch of well-informed opinion to get the juices flowing. You should read the article yourself, but, if you don’t have the time, I’ll try to explain it quickly: women are underrepresented in the world of literature. Fewer books are reviewed by women, fewer female authors get their books reviewed, and fewer female authors get their books published, and all of this despite the fact that women read more books than men. Those are the facts as put forth by Miller, and those facts have remained true for as long as anyone has thought to ask those questions.
Congrats to Amber Deitrich, winner of our Valentine's Day Story Contest. Amber's entry, which I can only guess is a true-life email/craigslist exchange between possible paramours, encapsulates the essence of being young and living in Austin in the 21st century. Plus, it mentions BookPeople, so we love it. Thanks to everyone who entered.
Valentine's Day is on Monday, and we're in the mood for a good story. Any bookstore-related tales of love out there? Wandering amongst the stacks, you and a certain someone reach for the same book at the same time, bumping hands and then making eye contact... you stare deeply into each other's soul. Now you're married and have a bajillion kids...something like that.
If you made a resolution to read more, and don't particularly care for novels, then we have the book club for you: Stranger Than Fiction Book Club (STFBC) has been around for about a year and a half and we are rapidly expanding the type of non-fiction we are reading to include cultural studies, memoirs and true crime, which is in addition to science, business and psychology. Basically, if it really happened and it's told in a fascinating manor then we want to read about it.