Happy Wednesday everyone! Anyway, as the year moves forward, I hope that you are all doing well and are all healthy despite the health risks that continue to hound us. Things are starting to go back to normal although one should still throw caution in the air; the virus remains a threat. I hope that the pandemic will end soon. I am also praying that 2022 will be a year of hope, healing, and recovery for everyone. I hope that the rest of the year will be a great one.

It is time for another WWW Wednesday update as it is a Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is a bookish meme originally hosted by SAM@TAKING ON A WORLD OF WORDS. The mechanics for WWW Wednesday are quite simple, you just have to answer three questions:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What have you finished reading?
  3. What will you read next?

What are you currently reading?

October is nearly done and I am glad to say that I have nearly achieved my goal which is to tick off all works of American literature in my reading challenges. September and October were dedicated to American literature because of this. I just now have Richard Powers’ The Overstory pending but before reading the book, I am making a detour by reading Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing. It is not part of any of my active reading challenges but I learned that its movie adaptation is about to be released. This made it imperative for me to read the book. Originally, I had no intention of reading the book. However, after repeated encounters with the book in bookstores and the controversy that hounded it, I finally relented. I was curious about what the book has in store. I am about to start the book so I cannot offer any impressions right now. I will be sharing them in this week’s First Impression Friday update.

What have you finished reading?

It was in early 2018 that I first came across American writer Richard Russo. His novel, Bridge of Sighs was one of many books up for grabs during the first Big Bad Wolf sale in Manila. I barely had any iota about who he was nor have I read any of his works but the inner adventurer in me was enough to convince me to give the book a try. I would, later on, learn that Russo won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize with Empire Falls, and Bridge of Sighs was the first novel he published following this win. So anyway, after nearly five years of gathering dust on my bookshelf, I finally was able to read the book. The novel follows two timelines. One was set in the present and introduced the book’s main character and primary (mostly) narrator, Louis Charles (“Lucy”) Lynch. He was already in his sixties and is living in the upstate New York (fictional) town of Thomaston. The story then toggled to the past as Russo painted Lucy’s backstory. We learn that Lucy was the only son of Big Lou and Tessa Lynch. His parents figure prominently in the story as they personified paradoxical attitudes. The patriarch was an optimist while the matriarch was a realist. Another seminal element to the story was Thomaston, a town that was once teeming with commerce ushered in by the tanning (leather) industry but was in steady decline. Bridge of Sighs was the intersection of Lucy’s story and that of a town inevitably in decline. The novel was an interesting book that had elements of social commentaries and coming of age.

Unlike Russo, Paul Auster is a familiar name to me. I have read and enjoyed his popular work, The New York Trilogy. However, it has been nearly five years since I read the book. Meanwhile, another book by the American writer I acquired, Moon Palace, was gathering dust on my bookshelf. With this in mind, I added the book to my 2022 Beat the Backlist Challenge; Bridge of Sighs was also a part of the said list and was also part of my 2022 Top 22 Reading List. Moon Palace is also listed as one of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Compared to my first novel by Auster, Moon Palace was more conformist in both form and substance. The book’s main character and narrator is Marco Stanley Fogg, an orphan raised by his uncle Victor. Fogg grew up in relative comfort but the equilibrium he enjoyed was destabilized by his uncle’s sudden passing. While he inherited boxes of books, his uncle’s death left Fogg without any family and friends. He started drifting until he was saved by his friends Zimmer and Kitty Wu. He refound stability after he was employed by a mysterious and cantankerous octogenarian named Thomas Effing. A healthy portion of the book was comprised of the story of Effing. The catch: Thomas Effing was not his real name. It was but one of many mysteries that shrouded the novel. Overall, Moon Palace was an interesting read about family dynamics with subtle discourses on literature and the arts, mental health, and being pro-choice or pro-life.

Closing my two-month venture into American Literature is Richard Powers’ The Overstory, the 2019 winner of the Pulitzer Prize; it was also shortlisted for the 2018 Booker Prize. My first encounter with the book was in 2020 when it was ubiquitous. The book cover, which seemed to reference a story about nature, caught my interest but not enough to make me want to read it. However, when Powers’ Bewilderment was longlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize for Fiction and I ended up liking the book, my interest in The Overstory was renewed. I have listed it as part of my 2022 Top 22 Reading List.

Another book on my 2022 Top 22 Reading List is Irish writer Kevin Barry’s The Night Boat to Tangier. The book first caught my attention in 2019 when it was longlisted for the Booker Prize. The book was also named one of the top ten books of 2019 by the New York Times Book Review. There is no excuse for me not to read the book although I did initially hold back for I have not heard of Barry nor have I read any of his previously. But what have I got to lose anyway? Like Barry, Rachel Joyce was an author whose works I have not read previously. This, however, did not stop me from obtaining a copy of her novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry in late 2018. I was reluctant at first but that title was enough to pique my curiosity. The book is also part of my Beat the Backlist Challenge.

That’s it for this week’s WWW Wednesday. I hope you are all doing great. Happy reading and always stay safe! Happy Wednesday again!