Some things I’ve been reading
by Yuly Restrepo
April 23, 2021
This week has been exhausting, and I haven’t done much in the way of my personal writing. I’m finishing up my semester at the University of Tampa, and this was also my week to volunteer to read high school essays for the Tampa Bay Times. I’ve had time to do little else, so I thought I’d use this blog entry to talk about some of the books I’ve read recently.
I read Frankenstein when I was a teenager and remember liking it, but it promptly left my mind afterward. I don’t think back then I read books for fun to absorb them as much as I read them to be able to say I’d read them. I think Frankenstein was one of those. I recently revisited it, and knowing more now about Mary Shelley’s life than I did back then, I’m struck by how much of this book really shows her own grief at having lost a child and at being an outcast in a group of male writers too preoccupied with their own renown.
To say that I enjoyed The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa might be incorrect, given that it’s an extremely grim book. It concerns an unnamed island where memories disappear from the collective. Over the course of the book, our narrator struggles to remember objects and concepts and memories that have disappeared with the help of a man who has been able to keep his memories, but we increasingly get the sense that it’s all in vain. She is able to recognize the objects and whatever connotations are associated with them, but is incapable of having any emotional attachment to them. It’s a beautiful tragedy.
The book I most recently finished is Kindred by Octavia E. Butler. Another difficult read, but one I couldn’t put down. Dana, a black woman who lives in California with her white husband, Kevin, is suddenly transported back in time to antebellum Maryland, when she must help her white slave-owning ancestor stay alive long enough to father a child. It’s a marvel to watch this narrator navigate life as an enslaved woman while still trying to be as humane as possible to the man responsible for her captivity.
Next on my list is Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters.