Happy midweek everyone! Wow. We are already halfway through the week. I hope your week is doing well.

As it is midweek, it is time for a fresh WWW Wednesday update, my first this year. 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?

And so my reading catch-up on 2022 book releases continues. This was also the case for the first two months of 2022 when I spent it reading 2021 releases which have piled up on my bookshelf. I guess I can’t resist being a backlist type of reader. Despite this, I was able to read 16 new books in 2022, a book higher than my target of 15. Anyway, I am currently reading Cleyvis Natera’s Neruda on the Park, my seventh consecutive 2022 book. I first encountered the novel when I was making my 2022 second-quarter most anticipated reads. The book’s title caught my fancy if I have to be honest; Pablo Neruda, being a poet, is a writer whose oeuvre I would probably not touch. Anyway, the book’s main characters were mother and daughter pair Eusebia and Luz Guerrero. Luz was a lawyer who lost her job while her mother turned into a crusader after falling and bumping her head. The titular park was the fictional Nothar Park, a neighborhood of struggling immigrants. In her debut novel, Natera tackled the gentrification of urban neighborhoods teeming with immigrants. This was a subject I find ubiquitous in recent works of American writers with Latin heritages. Xochitl Gonzalez’s Olga Dies Dreaming comes to mind. I am more than halfway through the book and I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds.

What have you finished reading?

Over the past week, I managed to complete just one book, John Irving’s latest novel, The Last Chairlift. Honestly, I wasn’t even aware that the American writer was releasing a new work in 2022. I only learned about it later in the year when it was already available in bookstores; I had the same case with Cormac McCarthy. Even though I was fresh from an Irving novel, The World According to Garp, my first by Irving in nearly three years, I didn’t hesitate in obtaining a copy of The Last Chairlift. This makes The Last Chairlift my fifth novel by John Irving.

One of the first things that stood out when I first came across the book was its length; it was rather thick. I am no stranger to long reads; it wasn’t too long ago that I read Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. But yes, even literary critics were not surprised by the book’s length. At the heart of The Last Chairlift was Adam, the illegitimate son of Rachel Brewster. Rachel, or Little Ray as she would fondly be referred to, was a slalom skier who participated in the 1941 National Downhill and Slalom Championships held at Aspen, Colorado. While she did not bring home the proverbial dough, she went home pregnant. The identity of the father was a mystery to her parents and two older sisters. It was a mystery that Adam would try to solve himself. The novel was your typical Irving novel. The setting and the structure were quite familiar. The novel did actually remind me of The World According to Garp. Both Garp and Adam were illegitimate sons born to virtually absent mothers but they adored their mothers nonetheless. They grew up around Philip Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. Both books also dealt extensively with politics. A common mantra in Irving’s novel is the realization that everything is political. Adam and Garps’s political awakening was seminal in the story. The brand of politics in Irving’s latest novel, however, focused on the politics of sexual identity. It was, as always, a thought-provoking novel; one can’t expect anything less from Irving. However, the story dragged and was repetitive. A tightening of the prose and cutting off of some parts would have made the story firmer.

Next up is Jabari Asim’s Yonder, a book that was recommended by a fellow book reader. Prior to 2022, I have not encountered nor have I read any works by Jabari Asim. I learned that Asim has a very extensive writing resume, a career that spanned various genres such as essays, poetry, and children’s stories. Yonder was his third novel. Somehow, I feel like the novel has elements of magical realism. Lastly, I am planning to read Lidia Yuknavitch’s latest novel, Thrust. Whoa. This will make it three new writers in a row for me. Unlike the two books which are both works of historical fiction, Thrust is set in the future which makes me suspect that it is dystopian fiction.

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!