2015 has been a rather difficult year for reading. I have been fully engaged with the renovation of a small house in Florida, traveling back and forth between Kentucky, Florida, and my cabin in Michigan moving and trading furniture and tools in which to pattern a new adventure soaked in sweat. Even our customary three month annual summer vacation at our cabin in northern Michigan proved unnerving as we disagreeably closed on the fortuitous, but too quick, sale of our home in Louisville and were forced to spontaneously move our belongings to Florida in the midst of one of the hottest seasons on record. Add to this my wife’s disagreeable and frightening bout with a serious neurological issue that almost did us both in as we searched frantically for an answer to her worsening daily condition. Too exhausted and worn out to even hit the wall, our energy was zapped and leisure remained for us a fading memory. But as the Christmas holidays now approach it is gratefully reported that Florida has proven to be a healing quotient for both of us, the doctors here more than adequate, my wife’s recovery in full swing due to her diligent and hard work both at physical therapy and meditation, and the endless summer I have always dreamed of now has basically become a reality. My reading and writing has picked up and a rhythm is now firmly established. I am eighteen months into a still developing writing project that is past the frustration stage and steadily leading me to pleasure.
In spite of all my yearlong troubles, I still managed to read my share of books, but this year I woefully lack the number of five-star reads I have historically grown accustomed to procuring as my good fortune generally provides me. I, as always, restrict my year-end report to those books that garnered a five-star ranking from me. This does not mean the lesser books I read were not worth my time or trouble. I often remember segments from minor works more vividly than those I deem a wonder or amazing.
I have been reading [b:Miss MacIntosh, My Darling|596358|Miss MacIntosh, My Darling|Marguerite Young|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1364314316s/596358.jpg|583036] by Marguerite Young for what seems now to be over a year. The pages number well over a thousand and the print is very small. The text is a rambling treatise on life as in a perpetual dream state. How this gifted woman has pulled this long work off is beyond me. Every morning I read at least two pages and marvel at how her dream continues and never seems out of place or unnatural in any way. Her tone never changes, the rhythm remains constant, and the language she employs seems perfect. I cannot recall one instance when a word struck me as being wrong, or that she might have used a different one for better affect. The book is, for me however, difficult to read. There really is no plot, no pat story or structured entertainment. So far she has focused on about six characters who are all connected in one way or another. They have all been given several pages and by the time she is finished with each they seem for me memorable. It feels as if it is all an observation though, a standing outside of oneself looking into a world of wild extravagance and perhaps too-rich an imagination. I have likened it to being engaged within a long and drawn-out acid trip, and that is what is astounding to me. How MargueriteYoung could maintain this lofty flight throughout its entirety and keep us moving freely among every drifting cloud within her ranging subjects. Still, at least two hundred pages remain to be read by me, and at this pace I will be tied to this book for another three months or so taking me into 2016. I have about five or six books going at any given time, and the more interesting and shorter works among them generally get read quickly.
But my new, and profound, interest in Young did lead me in 2015 to read [b:Marguerite Young, Our Darling: Tributes and Essays|596342|Marguerite Young, Our Darling Tributes and Essays|Miriam Fuchs|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347365054s/596342.jpg|583020] compiled by Miriam Fuchs. A wonderful read and extremely enlightening.
[b:I Remain in Darkness|1264267|I Remain in Darkness|Annie Ernaux|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320476588s/1264267.jpg|1253139] by [a:Annie Ernaux|56176|Annie Ernaux|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1227023667p2/56176.jpg] was the best of her entire body of work that I managed to pour through while in Florida working on my house. Her honesty is something I admire. Surely her memory is not all true, but who cares?
I am always a sucker for any book regarding the work of this troubled photographer John Deakin. His work and life was fascinating. The title of the newest addition to his oeuvre is [b:Under the Influence: John Deakin, Photography and the Lure of Soho|22281042|Under the Influence John Deakin, Photography and the Lure of Soho|Robin Muir|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1403171315s/22281042.jpg|41659956] by Robin Muir and it again did not disappoint.
Over the late winter months and into spring I read a remarkable work by Anaïs Nin titled [b:Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin|17980735|Mirages The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin (1939-1947)|Anaïs Nin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388916006s/17980735.jpg|25211451]. I wish she was still with us.
My favorite Norwegian writer,[a:Tomas Espedal|803467|Tomas Espedal|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1293722751p2/803467.jpg], provided me with another great experience with his latest endeavor titled [b:Against Nature: The Notebooks|23258421|Against Nature The Notebooks|Tomas Espedal|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1411605058s/23258421.jpg|17679909]. He writes for people more my age, I think. In other words, he is no spring chicken himself even though he likes younger women it seems.
I decided to tackle a bit of [a:Jorge Luis Borges|500|Jorge Luis Borges|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1389336941p2/500.jpg] and came out of the fight with three five-star wonders titled Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges
, [b:This Craft of Verse|16570|This Craft of Verse|Jorge Luis Borges|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1392006000s/16570.jpg|2359534], and [b:Dreamtigers|146429|Dreamtigers|Jorge Luis Borges|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1387664837s/146429.jpg|1076307].
[a:Gordon Lish|232097|Gordon Lish|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1267719924p2/232097.jpg] provided me with a pleasant surprise in his latest novel [b:Cess: A Spokening|25656725|Cess A Spokening|Gordon Lish|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1433351492s/25656725.jpg|45478496]. Based on his rather disappointing previous title [b:Goings: In Thirteen Sittings|18716325|Goings In Thirteen Sittings|Gordon Lish|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1399490707s/18716325.jpg|26579815] I believed any further literary output of his would certainly fail to produce another work as good as any of the best in his past, but I was wrong and admit publicly the error in my thinking.
[b:Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters|28910|Journal of a Novel The East of Eden Letters|John Steinbeck|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388263595s/28910.jpg|1316737] by John Steinbeck was so interesting and led me into the mammoth biography of his life and all his work of non-fiction. The Journal was the very best of what I read.
I thoroughly enjoyed two titles written by another Norwegian named Erlend Loe, those being [b:Naïve. Super|604635|Naïve. Super|Erlend Loe|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328731029s/604635.jpg|950536] and [b:Lazy Days|17731908|Lazy Days|Erlend Loe|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1385888519s/17731908.jpg|9458239]. It is my wish that more of his titles will be translated into English for us mono-lingual readers such as myself.
[b:The Ballad of the Sad Cafe|282646|The Ballad of the Sad Cafe|Carson McCullers|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348041553s/282646.jpg|952665] by Carson McCullers provided me with a pleasant week of reading as there are few others who can string a sentence together as McCullers can.
I visited New York City over Thanksgiving and came across a copy of [b:Camera Solo|13069770|Camera Solo|Patti Smith|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1344668269s/13069770.jpg|18235911] by Patti Smith in the Strand bookstore. I was surprised by the beauty of this book and her photographs and words spoke to me more than her latest offering [b:M Train|24728470|M Train|Patti Smith|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1429289871s/24728470.jpg|43579550] managed to.
[a:Jessa Crispin|6561741|Jessa Crispin|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1430328539p2/6561741.jpg] provided the surprise end-of-the-year Book of the Year for me with her travelogue/memoir/lit crit [b:The Dead Ladies Project: Exiles, Expats, and Ex-Countries|26840611|The Dead Ladies Project Exiles, Expats, and Ex-Countries|Jessa Crispin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1443626235s/26840611.jpg|43600371].