Reading Seattle #14 — University Branch

Date of visit: May 30, 2018

As there are 27 branches of the Seattle Public Library system, visiting branch #14 means I am at the halfway point!

This was a quick weekday visit — I was even on call, the library was closing in 15 minutes by the time I got there, and had to rush home in a Lyft because I promised my secondary I would be home by . It was a bizarrely wonderful riding experience because my driver, Rafael, decided that I was conversant in Spanish, and so we spoke partially in Spanish, with a lot of me going, “sorry, what does that mean”? He drove very well, but I swear his car was an automatic and yet he was shifting all the time as if it were a manual.

Books:

Hausfrau (Jill Alexander Essbaum) — I am so, so certain that I have read this book before, or attempted to read some of it. An American woman has moved to Switzerland with her (local) Swiss banker husband and two kids; she is depressed and sees a psychotherapist throughout the book, completely fruitlessly. She sleeps with people because she’s good at it and it makes her feel alive; very Tove Lo.

Eeeee Eee Eeee (Tao Lin) — My reaction when I finished this book? “well, those were some words on pages”

I chose this book because it was not like the other books I’d read by young Chinese-American authors about them and parents with high standards or incomplete ways of loving; this book was a guy who delivered pizza for Domino’s (a nod to Snowcrash?), had similarly disaffected suburban friends, seemed to not be able to get over some girl (until the end of the book, which I guess counts as growth in the protagonist), and runs into talking bears and dolphins and moose in his adventures.

Hence the title.

I dunno, if you’re sticking it to your parents, this book is definitely that.

Ambitiously, I checked out The Sovereign, by Andrew Elias Colorusso. This is an MFA project of a book; I checked it out because the guy went to Brown, and because it was about Puerto Rico, which is still in darkness after Maria, etc. It is more ambitious and adventurous than any of the other books I’ve checked out and I do intend to read it eventually, but if I stopped the project based on finishing this book where I have to look things up twice every page, I would add months to the length of this project.

So instead I read Family Life (Akhil Sharma). An autobiographical immigrant story; the author is the younger brother of a pair that immigrate to the US with their mother to follow his father. The impetus was Indira Gandhi’s policies. They settle in ok; his brother gets into the Bronx High School of Science, and then gets trapped underwater at a public pool and is in a persistent vegetative state for the rest of the book. His dad becomes an alcoholic, and his poor mother struggles to figure out their place in the local Indian immigrant community.

Eventually the author finds release in writing; he gets into Princeton because the admissions officer who read his essay had his wife die of drowning. (Funnily, he gets rejected from Brown.) He makes $700k in his first year as an i-banker, working 20-hour days.

Refreshingly raw expressions of how immigrants handle race in America; this is also the first book I’ve read where an immigrant family deals with disability and addiction. I hope the author has used his banking money to get some therapy.

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