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Another fine mess

Reader fan critic teacher reader fan.

Currently reading

Ottessa Moshfegh
Knife Fight and Other Struggles
David Nickle
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
Andrew Solomon
The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More (New Edition)
Derek Bok
Dissident Gardens
Jonathan Lethem
Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
Kim Newman
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
James Gleick
Complete Novels
Dashiell Hammett, Steven Marcus
The Artist of Disappearance - Anita Desai 3 novellas--linked I suppose by the recurrence of small but substantive moments of moral decision, a common question of how (and why, and whether) art matters in one's life, and Desai's precisely-detailed prose and characterization. One of these knocked me down: as Prema, a middle-aged mouse of an English teacher, grabs hold of an opportunity to share her passion for the stories of a relatively-unknown writer, published only in the regional Oriya language, in the timeworn tradition this translator becomes more self-possessed, more assertive--more herself? But the story doesn't travel the same rutted path we know so well--she neither triumphs nor, stricken by hubris, crashes. Instead, she tussles with authority, power, language, desire, envy.... no Big Moments, just a weave of reflections, asides, and casual insights that en masse ... I wouldn't say reveal (no epiphanies), nor is the conclusion allusive or ambiguous. Desai captures, embodies, Prema and these struggles. The story (or this depiction of self) is fully realized yet incomplete. Desai is a pointillist, and she sees life not emergent from the sea of moments--not some pattern realized out of the whole of the story--but most fully grasped in the wash and ebb of the water.

And such prose!

He also brought him a kerosene lamp which seemed something of a travesty in the burnt house, and lit it, turning Ravi into a shadow that leapt and clawed at the walls.