These are the books I’m reading right now. From the bottom: The End by Salvatore Scibona, Raymond Carver: A Writer’s Life by Carol Sklenicka, The God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, and The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis.
I actually finished The End a while ago, but I keep going back to it because it’s so original and beautifully written. I am particularly enamored of Costanza Marini, one of my favorite characters in a long time.
I’m about halfway through the Raymond Carver (thank you, Sky!), and so far a lot of the narrative has been spent dramatizing something that is more anguished than dramatic: the slow climb to what counts as success to writers but would not be very satisfying to a lot of people. If you want to discourage someone from writerly ambition, this might be a good book to recommend. Then again, so would a lot of writers’ biographies.
The Yasmina Reza is a play my family saw last year for Father’s Day. My mom and I are working on our own one-act play, inspired by God of Carnage. I won’t say what it’s called, but it is based on our extended family and the set is very simple: an artificial Christmas Tree with an Easter balloon tied to it.
And Lydia Davis, she is like Arnold Lobel for grown-ups. This FSG edition is a good example of why the Kindle or iPad can never really replace real books that you can hold in your hand: the perfect size and weight, the plain, orange-creamsicle cover, the way the book will fall open to a perfect little story, like this:
Getting to Know Your Body
If your eyeballs move, this means that you’re thinking, or about to start thinking.
If you don’t want to be thinking at this particular moment, try to keep your eyeball still.
(Lydia Davis, from Varieties of Disturbance)
I don’t ever feel guilty about buying books. You shouldn’t either.