Thursday, September 01, 2011

Lost List - 1990 reads

While culling through my USA book collection those last few days at home, I squealed with delight at one point to find Inside Oscar.  I loves me some movie history, but this is also the book that contains the list of books I read during 1990.  I used to write my book lists in the backs of books until 1993 when my son and husband gave me a reading journal and broke me of that nasty habit forever.

Looking back at this 21-year-old list, I'm reminded of how I was very much into the short story form.  Also, 48 seemed like a great amount of books back then; now it seems paltry.  I was working the night shift at a grocery store and did most of my reading before work and on breaks.  During the day, I always felt as if I was in a sleep deficit. Daytime felt gray and oppressive or jaggedy and too-bright.

I've forgotten many of these titles, but one thing I know for sure:  Most of these were library books.  These were the days when I would carry out piles and piles. I could rock a library card like nobody's business.


1. Peachtree Road (novel)- Anne Rivers Siddons.  I don't remember this book at all.  I really don't remember any of Siddons' books except the very good Heartbreak Hotel and the uneven Fox's Earth. Library book.

2. 50th Anniversary GWTW (nonfiction) - Herb Bridges.  All the trivia about the book and the making of the movie.  Lots of photos.  Everything a fan like me could desire.  Library book.

3. Some Can Whistle (novel) - Larry McMurtry.  Danny Deck, from All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers, meets up with his long lost daughter.  Not one of my favorites, but time spent with McMurtry is time well spent.  Library book.

4. Elizabeth Cole (novel) - Susan Cheever.  I have no memory of this book. I'm sure it was a library book.

5.  Believe Them (short stories) - Mary Robison.  Ooooh, good stuff.  Minimalism.  I love Robison. I bought this book.

6. The Lost Sister (novel) - Robert Love Taylor.  I don't remember anything about this book.  Must have been from the library.

7. This Boy's Life (memoir) - Tobias Wolff.  One of the best memoirs out there.  Gold standard.  I bought this book.

8. The Silent Storm (novel) - Marion Marsh Brown.  This is a fictional biography of Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller's teacher.  Good stuff, especially the early days depicting Annie's impoverished childhood in the poorhouse.  I'm pretty sure this was a reread.  Library book.

9.  Picturing Will (novel) - Ann Beattie.  I don't remember this book, but I remember wanting to try it because Ann Beattie is also a short story writer.  Library book.

10. Pretty Girls (novel) - Garret Weyr.  This doesn't even ring a faint bell.  I'm sure it was from the library.

11. In Constant Flight (short stories) - Elizabeth Tallent.  Tallent was another short story writer I admired very much.  I still reread her short-short "No One's A Mystery" from time to time when I see it republished in anthologies.  Where is she now?  Library book.

12.  The Chinchilla Farm (novel) - Judith Freeman.  I don't really remember much about this book except that the main character is Mormon, and there was some talk about the sacred undergarments, which always intrigued me.  I also have a vague memory of it being a "road novel".  Library book.

13. Prehistory of the Far Side (cartoons) - Gary Larsen.  Fun.  I would say that I miss The Far Side, but the cartoons are so good, they never seem to lose their freshness.  Library book.

14.  A Period of Confinement (novel) - Moira Crone.  I'm sure I liked this book, but I don't remember much about it except that it was a little dark and the main character's name was Alma. She was an artist of some kind.  Library book.

15. Endless Love (novel) - Scott Spencer.  This was a reread of one of my favorites.  I'm surprised that I wrote down the rereads.  Back then, I didn't think it really "counted" if I had read it before.  I bought this book.

16. Escapes (short stories) - Joy Williams.  Williams was a happy discovery for me during 1990.  I love this collection, particularly the title story and "Rot".  She's like Carver but a little more surreal.  I bought this book.

17. Anna LMNO (novel) - Sarah Glasscock.  Anna is a hairdresser in East? West? Texas and she's saving up to buy the shop from her boss.  She's twice-married, once to a wife abuser and currently, in the novel, to a guy from South Africa who needed a green card.  Her best friend, Jo, has health problems.  I loved the flat quirky voices of the characters, although some of the things they said and did didn't always make sense.  A library book that I later purchased.  Three times.

18. Me and My Baby View the Eclipse (short stories) - Lee Smith.  Smith's short stories are always a pleasure to read.  Gotta love that title, too; there's a whole world and plenty of poetry in those six words.  I love the juxtaposition of the grammatical error with the more formal "view".  Library book.

19. Wedlock (novella, short stories) - Mark Spencer.  In the title story, Pamela, a former high school cheerleader and beauty queen works at McDonald's to support herself and her strange second husband, Bobby who spends his days hunting for old toys to sell and with his wall-eyed mistress who works at the DMV. ("She's so ugly, she could be on television," Pamela observes.) Lon, Pamela's jock first husband comes back to town after bombing out in the minor leagues after a promising high-school career.  This novella and its sequel, Love and Reruns in Adams County are definitely worth a look.  I bought this book.

20. Dove (memoir) - Robin Lee Graham.  Graham left school at 16 and sailed around the world for 5 years.  The title of the book comes from the name of his boat.  During this time, he met the woman he wanted to marry, so it's a bit of a love story as well. I often wonder what became of Robin, Patti and baby Quimby in the years after the book ended.  I bought this book.

21. Best American Short Stories, 1989 -Margaret Atwood, guest editor.  I'm sure I liked this volume.  I was in my heyday as a short story reader and Margaret Atwood was at the helm.  Library book.

22. Louder Than Words (short story anthology) - I think the proceeds from this collection were meant to benefit the homeless.  I also recall that the first story was by Anne Tyler, which led to me buying the book.

23. Ordinary Love &Good Will (novellas) - Jane Smiley.  I remember liking the first novella better than the second one, but can't remember much about either.  I like Smiley's writing though, and some of her odd choices. Library book.

24. Like Life (short stories) - Lorrie Moore.  Yay, I love this!  I love Lorrie Moore, and I simply adore one of the stories in this collection, "You're Ugly, Too."  Library book.

25. Reflections in a Jaundiced Eye (essays) - Florence King.  I love the play on Carson McCullers' Reflections in a Golden Eye.  This is the book in which she says that John Updike reminds her of Jane Austen and Herman Melville -- trying to do needlepoint through whale blubber, or something like that.  I'm an Updike fan, but that was so funny, I had to forgive her.  Updike probably did, too.  A friend of mine got hooked on Florence King while reading The National Review and she loaned me this book.  I was reading it on break at work and a customer came through my line and asked me if I was "an intellectual or something."

26. Once Upon a Time on the Banks (novel) - Cathie Pelletier.  I don't remember this book, but I remember checking it out from the library.

27. The One True Story of the World (novel) - Lynne McFall.  I think I know which book this is, but not sure.  I'd like to try it again.  Library book.

28. A Thousand Benjamins (novel) - Michael Kun.  Benjamin's wife divorces him after many years of marriage, then he meets a young woman who has had heart surgery.  This novel reminded me of Anne Tyler.  Library book.

29. The Shoplifter's Apprentice (short stories) - Ellen Lesser.  The title story was all right, but I liked one of the other ones better, about a woman who goes to visit her old friend from college and now the friend is married with a baby and they're all vegetarian and back-to-the-land-ish.  I thought Lesser did a great job of exploring that awkwardness caused by time and distance.  I bought this book.

30. Rock Springs (short stories) - Richard Ford.  Another happy discovery in 1990.  Love at first story.  This is a really good collection.  I bought this book.

31. Goodbye Without Leaving (novel) - Laurie Colwin.  I didn't like this as much as earlier Colwin books like Family Happiness, Happy All the Time and Another Marvelous Thing.  I wonder: Will  Colwin will end up being remembered best for her fiction or her food essays? Library book.

32. Squabble (short stories) - John Holman.  I don't remember this book.  Library?

33.  When Sisterhood was in Flower (novel) - Florence King.  Florence King, you make my heart sing!  You make everything part: the main character goes to work for a porn novel publisher and learns how to crank 'em out.  Hilarious. Library book.

34. Wildlife (novel) - Richard Ford.  I love this book, but I hate the title.  Why is it called Wildlife?  I keep wanting to call it "Wildfire" because the main character's father volunteers to fight a forest fire in Montana.  I'm not the type to go on and on about beautiful sentences, but Ford's writing brings that out in me.  This short novel and Rock Springs are my favorite works by him.  Library book.

35. Anagrams (novel) - Lorrie Moore.  It took me a while to track down this book (pre-Internet days) and when I finally got it, I couldn't stop reading it.  One of my favorites.

36. Lump It or Leave it (essays) - Florence King.  I remember the picture of Florence King on the cover with a gun and her annoyance with having to review crap books, but not much else.  My favorite of hers is With Charity Towards None: A Fond Look at Misanthropy. Borrowed from the above-mentioned friend.

37. Taking Care (short stories) -Joy Williams. This 1985 collection is a gem. The story about the woman whose dog died wrung at my heart, especially when her insensitive boyfriend, tired of her mourning, decides to provide her with perspective. Library book.

38. An Amateur's Guide to the Night (short stories) - Mary Robison.  One story calls for another.  I bought this book.

39. Available Light (novel) - Ellen Currie.  I remember thinking that the first chapter was engaging then it all went downhill pretty fast.  A gift from the Florence King-reading friend.

40. The Funeral Makers (novel) - Cathie Pelletier. All I remember is a suicide at the end, and the chilling, matter-of-fact way that it was carried out.  Library book.

41. Wild at Heart (novel) - Barry Gifford.  I saw the movie first, then the book reviewer in The Kansas City Star raved about the book.  I bought it.

42. Family Pictures (novel) - Sue Miller.  I always feel terrible because I can never remember anything about any of Sue Miller's novels except The Good Mother.  Library book.

43. Presumed Innocent (novel) - Scott Turow.  I read this because a co-worker urged it on me.  It was OK, but I've never read anything else by Turow.

44. Chilly Scenes of Winter (novel) - Ann Beattie. I remember bit and pieces of this book: the main character is suffering from unrequited love, one of the characters mentions that food tastes better since she stopped wearing lipstick and there was a rather spirited discussion between two guys about "brasseries".  I remember liking it and feeling that it was closer in spirit to one of her short stories.  Interlibrary loan.

45. The Gasoline Wars (short stories) - Jean Thompson. I don't remember this book, but I must have liked it because I went out and bought her follow-up collection, Who Do You Love?  Library book.

46. With or Without (short stories) - Charles Dickinson.  I don't remember this book.  Library book, I'm pretty sure.

47. A Long and Happy Life (novel) - Reynolds Price. In his first novel, Price tells the story of the 6-month courtship of Rosacoke Mustain and Wesley Beavers. Beautiful details about the way of life in the south.  Except for his memoir, this is my very favorite of Price's books and I would definitely read it again.  Interlibrary loan.

48. Rabbit at Rest (novel) - John Updike.  In spite of the title, in spite of Rabbit's serious health problems during this novel, I refused to believe that anything bad had happened to him.  At the end of this book, he was still conscious of things going on around him and I was convinced that he would rally and appear in a fifth book.  My friend said she cried and asked me if I did.  I didn't see any reason to until I was absolutely sure.  Finally, in 2001, Licks of Love with the novella "Rabbit, Remembered" came out and I had to accept it.  Library book.


Sam Sattler said...

Interesting titles and choices, Susan. Some of those books bring back a lot of memories for me.

A Library Girl said...

A whole list of books, and the only one I've read is number 13. The Far Side was/is wonderful.

Unruly Reader said...

It's like finding a time capsule! So glad you found your 1990 book list and that you included it here.

Anagrams -- I love that book, too. Great book club book.

Teacher/Learner said...

What a great find! I love movie and Oscar history books--Steve Pond's book on the Oscars is entertaining. I need to get my hands on Inside Oscar. I haven't had a movie book fix in a while.

Anonymous said...

First of all - 1990 was 21 years ago?? Yikes.

The only book on that list I've read is Presumed Innocent, and like you, the only Scott Turow I've ever read.

I wish I'd written my lists in the back of books, or anywhere. It never occurred to me to track what I read until recently (and I admit to making fun of the girlfriend that suggested it, but it's actually pretty nifty).

Carrie#K said...

Not anonymous. Me. :)