Reading Seattle #7 — Magnolia Library

Date of visit: November 25, 2017

I think this was a damp rainy weekend when I decided to have a nice transit / LimeBike adventure to some place relatively inaccessible, but also not too far away. I ended up taking a bus that didn’t actually get me to the library, but got off at the nearest stop and biked the rest. It wasn’t too bad.

Magnolia has unnervingly wide streets; if it weren’t cut off from the rest of Seattle with only two means of egress, it would be a nice place to live.

The books:

Nuclear Family (Susanna Fogel) — Oy vey what a disaster. It’s a Jewish girl who grows up into a writer; her dad divorces and remarries a woman named Mei Ling who has a son, Stuart, who is very focused on his violin studies, and ‘oriental’ conservative views as well as an implausible set of grammatical difficulties.

The entire book is a caricature of Jewish family, sure: I’m uncomfortable with the fact that a poorly-written Chinese woman is part of the caricature.

Ways to Disappear (Idra Novey) — It was a warm, hazy book, replete with handsome Lusitanian lover, featuring a translator who goes to Brazil to rescue her author (the author she translates), who has disappeared up a tree to escape her gambling debts.

Lover (Anna Raverat) — A story about a marriage that undergoes an affair and divorce. The protagonist is an executive at a hotel chain, and those tidbits are kind of interesting, but overall it was a predictable book.

Underground Airlines (Ben H. Winters) — I don’t read a lot of sci-fi or alternative history, so I was uneasy reading this description of a United States where the south won the war, a much poorer United States whose trading partners are mostly restricted to other ‘backward’ countries, like South Africa and Pakistan. I suppose the implication is that the USA as it is now is still stymied because we have not fully reckoned with our history of slavery and the racism in our institutions.

But the plot was far fetched and had more twists than the challah I made this weekend; luckily it also has a good ending for the protagonist.


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