What I’ve Been Reading

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In short, lots.

Since the beginning of summer, I’ve read (or reread):

Zero K, Don DeLillo

Six Years, Harlen Coben

Kiss the Girls, James Patterson

London Fields, Martin Amis

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari

This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein

Trickster Makes This World, Lewis Hyde

The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu

When God Talks Back, T.M. Luhrmann

The Last Policeman, Ben H. Winters

Bhagavad Gita, Stephen Mitchell tr.

The Amputee’s Guide to Sex, Jillian Weise

Brotherly Love, Pete Dexter

Elizabeth Costello, J.M. Coetzee

A Sport and a Pastime, James Salter

Bluets, Maggie Nelson

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach

The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning, Maggie Nelson

Skin and Other Stories, Roald Dahl

Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Jeff Lindsey

Machine Man, Maxx Barry

Rosemary’s Baby, Ira Levin

The Waves, Virginia Woolf

Dearly Devoted Dexter, Jeff Lindsey

Million Dollar Bill, Eric Paul Shaffer

People Who Eat Darkness, Richard Lloyd Parry

Partial List of People to Bleach, Gary Lutz

The Postman Always Rings Twice, James M. Cain

Stoner, John Williams

 

My favorite? People Who Eat Darkness. Be warned, though, the story’s as haunting and grisly as the title. It’s the true-crime account of the abduction and murder of Lucie Blackman, a twenty-one-year-old British “hostess,” in Japan in 2000. I was living there then (in fact, we arrived the same month and were roughly the same age) and followed the case closely. I felt and feared for Lucie, and when the news broke that her body had been discovered in a seaside cave, I was as devastated as I’ve ever been by a news report. Lucie’s story so moved me that I spent many months trying to incorporate a fictionalized version in my first novel before eventually realizing it didn’t, and wouldn’t, fit. Nonetheless, her story fueled my investigation of the sex-violence axis in a good proportion of what I write. Donald Barthelme advised writers to “Write about what you’re afraid of.” There’s nothing I’m more afraid of than the sort of hungry ghost this book is about. Parry researched his material for a solid decade and writes with great clarity and panoramic compassion.

 

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