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Thursday Thirteen #3


Presenting, in alphabetical order, thirteen books that have influenced me as a poet/writer:

1. 0676973655.01._SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpgA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – Dave Eggers. Is this a memoir? A novel? This Guardian Book review titled A staggeringly post-modern work of literary trickery tries to explain this wondrous feat.

2. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept – Elizabeth Smart. A semi-autobiographical prose work the novel is concerned with the narrator’s love for a married man (paralleling Smart’s affair with the married George Barker). The simple plot – a woman yearns for a man she has not yet met; meets him, and his wife; falls in love; follows him to Ottawa and New York. The narrator-as-writer includes in her arsenal characters and events from myth, fable, literature, and the Bible.

3. 0771058837.01._SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpgFugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels. This startlingly beautiful novel tells the interlocking stories of two men from different generations whose lives have been transformed by war. Written in richly poetic language, studded with striking images, Fugitive Pieces is a profound meditation upon the nature of loss, love and the healing power of words.

4. Gut Symmetries – Jeannette Winterson. “This is a story of time, universe, love affair and New York. The ship of Fools, a Jew, a diamond, a dream. A working class boy, a baby, a river. “ A strange, wonderful book. For more information go here.

5. 0676975658.01._SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpgMiddlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides. When this book first came out, I read an interview with the author, who stated that this novel of epic proportions took 9 years to complete. Like Midnight’s Children, this novel contains a daunting array of historical facts seamlessly blended into the story about Cal and his/her journey. Through the main character’s story, I learned a great deal about the great Ford Motor Company plant in Detroit called River Rouge, about the burning of Smyrna by Turkish troops in 1922 (and the burning of Detroit by angry African-Americans in 1967), about the Nation of Islam, and finally, about genetic anomalies and hermaphroditism.

6. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie. I first encountered this book in my second year post-colonial English class at university. Rushdie is a master story-teller, fusing history with myth. At the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the date on which India proclaimed itself independent from Great Britain, 1,001 children are born with supernatural powers. Two are switched at birth, the illegitimate son of a poor Hindu woman and the offspring of wealthy Muslims. Rushdie follows them through 30 years of partition, violence and Indira Gandhi’s iron-fisted rule.

7. 0374199779.01._SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpgMilosz’s ABC’s – Czeslaw Milosz . I am intrigued that an entire Polish genre of A B C books exist. This book was written by Milosz when he was 89. It’s a quirky memoir/meditation, consisting of short, associatively shaped prose entries - arranged in alphabetical order. I read a couple of entries whenever I need inspiration. Under A, for example, you’ll find entries on: Adamites (nudists), Admiration, After all and Alchemy.

8. Obasan – Joy Kogawa. Winning both the Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Canadian Authors’ Association Book of the Year Award, Obasan was the first novel to deal with the Canadian internment of its Japanese citizens during and after World War II. The autobiographical work tells the story of a schoolteacher, Naomi, remembering the struggle to grow up as a third generation Japanese Canadian amid the hysteria of World War II.

9. Running in the Family – Michael Ondaatje. This memoir is largely constructed through second-hand stories and these stories are filtered by memory and gossip. Funny, poignant and heart-breaking.

10. The Colussos of Marousi.jpgThe Colossus of Maroussi– Henry Miller ~ The book is a love letter to Greece, both a travelogue and a character study. After living in Paris for several years, Greece seemed to Miller a place where he felt the most intensely alive, peaceful, and balanced.

11. The Liar’s Club – Mary Karr This memoir, published in 1995, describes a childhood that many people would wish to avoid. Her mother’s alcoholism and addiction to diet pills lead to many strange episodes. Mary’s father is a rough-and-ready, quarrelsome native Texan with Native-American blood who excels as a teller of tall tales. Beautifully written and very accessible.

12. To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf . Mrs. Ramsay is a housewife and hostess; her husband is a cold, analytical philosopher; drawn in their wake are, among others, a struggling young painter named Lily Briscoe and their little son James, whose dearest wish is to take a boat ride to a nearby lighthouse.

Quickly, as if she were recalled by something over there, she turned to her canvas. There it was—her picture. Yes, with all its greens and blues, its lines running up and across, its attempt at something. It would be hung in the attics, she thought; it would be destroyed. But what did that matter? she asked herself, taking up her brush again. She looked at the steps; they were empty; she looked at her canvas; it was blurred. With a sudden intensity, as if she saw it clear for a second, she drew a line there, in the centre. It was done; it was finished. Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.

13. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts – Maxine Hong Kingston. As a first-generation Chinese American, the author struggles to reconcile her Chinese cultural heritage with her emerging sense of herself as an American. A clever blend of fantasy, childhood memories, folklore, and family history, Kingston’s work, first published in 1975, transcends genres. I am forever indebted to my modern American Literature professor, Peter Quartermain, for sharing this amazing book. And, one of the reasons I became a writer is due to Maxine Hong Kingston.

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I've only read three of these, and loved two. I'll have to add a few of them to my bookmooch wishlist.

Interesting comments.. :D

Great list--I have some of them on my TBR.

Thanks for stopping by!

interesting list. I'll have to check those books out.

thanks for stopping by my TT.

Wow! I've also managed to never read a single one ... but now I'm very curious about several. I will have to bookmark this post.

I actually did get to do a T13 finally on Saturday. I'm still running two posts behind -- Four by tomorrow (monday) a.m. but who's counting.

Very much enjoyed visiting your blog.


WOW! Deep stuff here. I read a lot of fluff. It relaxes me!

I didn't do too well on this! I've read two of Egger's books and the one you list here is the only book I've read on your list. Most of them I'd not even heard of!

Xine, your list made we want to go hang out at Borders and check all of these books out... thanks! And thanks for the comment, will try to check your blog even though TT is retired.

I've not yet read ANY of these books...but I've heard of a few, and you've whetted my appetite. :)

I loved Middlesex and Woman Warrior. #1 is on my list and I may add a couple of others now. If you are interested in books about the senses I would recommend Aphrodite by Isabel Allende. It really benefits from being read aloud.

Interesting list...they were pretty much unfamiliar to me as well.

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on my blog!

I love to read, it's been some times since I've read something so meaningful as the books on your list.

I love book lists with info on them because I have no patience with browsing at the library or bookstore, but I love to read. So, thank you.

Thanks for stopping by my Thursday Thirteen. I hope someone buys the rights for it and keeps it going.

Wow, what a marvelous list of books -- they sound fascinating, and I'm adding them to my to-read list.

Have a wonderful weekend, and thanks for visiting my blog. I like your blog very much and am delighted to have found you through T13!

What a variety! I don't think I have heard of any of them.

Thanks for stopping by my place. Feel free to visit any time. :)

I love blog entries about books. :) I've never read any of the ones on your list, but some of them sound intriguing.

Thanks for stopping by my TT. Feel free to visit any time.

Love book lists. Don't have much time to read lately, so I appreciate the reviews. I think I'll start with #13...Thanks for stopping by my T13. (Sorry I'm late - I posted late and now I'm catching up!)

I'm always looking for book recommendations! These sound very interesting. Thanks for stopping by. It's a shame this might end, but it's been saved before, so it could happen again!

Love book lists, I am on vacation next week and will be going to the library tomorrow. I will try to pick up the first two books.
Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Great picks, although I have to admit I did not love Middlesex. Thanks for the ideas. About your comment on my blog, I didn't realize she was saying we can't continue TT. It's sounding like maybe it was a business decision...

This is the first list of TT13 books in which I have not read one single book. Congratulations.

I linked to you from 13 things 23

Can't say that I've read any of those books.

Fantastic list! Isn't literature wonderful? Those who don't understand literature's importance think it's just words on a page, but we know it's so much more than that. It has the power to change lives.

I loved Middlesex, a student's parents gave it to me a few years ago. I read To The Lighthouse and Woman Warrior this past fall and they are equally great.
Thanks for visiting my TT.

Oooh! Books! I'm going to hunt down "Woman Warrior" and "By Grand Central Station..." this weekend! Thanks for sharing; and for stopping by to visit me! I'll be back to check out more of your recs...

Ooohh... I added a bunch of these to my To read list. Thanks!

I have never read any of those, but I love to read. I should take time to read some of them.

Thanks for visiting my TT. I agree the Rosie, O.J, and the "Donald" should have been on my list too. (In fact, all the "View" ladies)

Great list for a T13 Swan Song... or is it?(swan song I mean. It is absolutely a great list)

Thanks for stopping by my final T13; 13 Thursday Thirteen Logos I made and used during the last 30 weeks.

I have only read the Eggers book (which I loved).Looking forward to picking a few more of these up for my vacation reading. Thanks for the great TT

great list! i've read heartbreaking work of staggering genius, it's wonderful! middlesex is sitting in my bookshelf waiting for me!! thanks for stopping by! happy tt!

Happy final TT! I'm glad you stopped by West of Mars and hope you'll do so in the future; you've got a neat list of books here, none of which I'm familiar with. I'll have to fix that!

I don't know all of those, so I'll check them out. Thanks for the tips!
I hope TT will continue, so we don't have to stop. Thank you for stopping by my TT; if you have time come back to give it a try!

Great list! Thanks for visiting my TT :o)

I really liked Middlesex. I'll have to check some of the others out too. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Happy final TT. It was fun while it lasted...

This is a furry good list! Mommakitty said it reminded her of some books she still wanted to read.

Thanks fer visiting us on this last TT :(

P.S. - we likes yer blog title. We lives in the "Chicken Capitol of the World" (Petaluma, California, USA)

I think I read the book from Salman Rushdie. of course I know most of the authors, but the books have been translated so the titles are not corresponding.

Thursday Thirteen has come to an end.
I have enjoyed my visits here and consider us friends.
Thank you for sharing your thirteens with me.
The comments you left me filled me with glee.
It is hard to believe it is really true.
I am trying very hard to not be blue.
Happy TT'ing!
(")_ (")Š