Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Julie Metz

Julie Metz is the recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship; her work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Glamour, Hemispheres, and the New York City storysite Mr. Beller's Neighborhood. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

Metz is the author of Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal.

Not so long ago I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
My reading habits are as wide-ranging as I can manage in the time I have, typically the hour before I drift off to sleep. Sadly I am not a fast reader, so my To Be Read Pile is always overflowing, a testament to great ambition. In my fantasy, my future life allows me morning hours of reading over cups of green tea. Here are some of my recent reads, in no particular order:

Jennifer Egan, A Visit From the Goon Squad

A sequence of related stories narrated from different points of view. We follow characters as they scramble through their teens and early twenties, make mistakes, start careers in the music industry, enter into and bust up marriages and along the way we see how time changes them for better and worse. The stories coalesce into a beautiful whole—biting, funny, innovative, and true.

Laura Furman, The Mother Who Stayed

An editor sent me this collection of stories in galley form. This book has really stayed with me. The stories probe the relationship between mother and child, in the loosest sense of the word. With wonderfully rendered scenes of American landscape, the stories form a kind of national portrait so much greater than the domestic dramas of the plots.

Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss

I did not read this novel when it first came out…it was one of many novels on my To Be Read pile. When I finally read it during my summer holiday, I knew from the first page that I was in for a fantastic read. Desai’s gorgeous writing offsets a frequently harrowing tale of loss as a cantankerous retired judge, his aging cook, his teenaged granddaughter and a few neighbors live out their days in a remote village in India beset by political strife. Far away, the cook’s son struggles to make a life in New York City. The story sounds grim, but it is real and full of the kind of soaring emotion that quickens the heart.

Nancy Milford, Savage Beauty

Another from the To Be Read pile—I hadn’t known much about the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. In these pages I learned about her desperate early childhood in Maine, followed by early literary success at college and New York City in the 1920s and 30s. Edna smoked in public, and further scandalized society with her many love affairs, drank like a fish, and ended up a morphine addict. Along the way she wrote poems that were in their day as well known the lyrics to “Stairway to Heaven” were for my generation or Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” are for my daughter’s. She lived like a rock star. An eye-opening read, and a surprising page-turner.

John Banville, a.k.a. Benjamin Black, Christine Falls

Every once in a while I love a good mystery. This one, written by John Banville under his pseudonym Benjamin Black fits the bill nicely. 1950s Dublin, a hard-boiled pathologist who suffers for his endless curiosity hunts down clues in the death of a woman named Christine Falls. No spoilers here, except to say that it’s not really about the plot. Though there is plenty of plot.

Tom Rachman, The Imperfectionists

I loved this book, another series of interconnected stories—funny and heartbreaking—about the lives of journalists who muddle through their lives while working at a failing newspaper in Rome.

Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections

I am re-reading this brilliant novel in preparation for my book group’s next selection—Franzen’s newly published Freedom. We are still going to travel to my boyfriend’s Midwestern family this Christmas. In fact, compared to the dysfunctional Lambert clan, this novel makes our own families seem like comforting wellsprings of sanity.
Read an excerpt from Perfection, and learn more about the book and author at Julie Metz's website.

The Page 99 Test: Perfection.

The Page 69 Test: Perfection.

--Marshal Zeringue