Posts Tagged Muriel Spark

IN THE REALM: 13 Book Suggestions for Halloween


Each scary in their own way. some thrillers, some nonfiction, some memoirs and a few classics that totally creep me out. I read Stephen King’s Pet Sematary one summer and was afraid of things jumping out of bushes for a long while after finishing it.

fearful symmetry

1. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

pet sematary

2. Pet Sematary by Stephen King


3. Montana by Gwen Florio


4. Biohazard by Ken Alibek

lost in the forest

5. Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller

old woman

6. There Was an Old Woman by Hallie Ephron

street lawyer

7. The Street Lawyer by John Grisham

lord of the flies

8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

drivers seat

9. The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark

black water

10. Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates


11. Stiff: the curious lives of cadavers by Mary Roach


12. Threats by Amelia Gray

working stiff

13. Working Stiff by Judy Melinek

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BOOKS: 25 Suggestions for #ReadWomen2014

As an English major at a women’s college (Simmons College in Boston), I didn’t read as many women authors as you’d think. I remember a Victorian Experience class with George Eliot as one of the authors along with Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens, naturally. I took a wonderful summer course at Emerson College that included Edith Wharton on the syllabus and I immediately fell for her. Upon graduating I’ve made up for not reading that many female authors and likely read more female than male authors. As with any business, I know that the literary world’s filled with many more big-name male authors and lesser-known female authors. More literary prizes go to men than to women. Female authors usually get pushed into the “women’s fiction” a.k.a. “chick lit” genre whereas men nearly always write literary fiction, mystery/thriller and nonfiction. There’s little parity. So I’m all for this #ReadWomen2014 movement.

Here are 25 of my favorite books by women, a mix of classic and modern, if you need some reading suggestions:

Glimpses vintage

1. Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton

song of lark

2. The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather


3. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

journal of a solitude

4. Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton


5. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers


6. Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker


7. The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud


8. Intuition by Allegra Goldman

ghana must go

9. Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi


10. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

portrait in sepia

11. Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende

good earth

12. The Good Earth by Pearl Buck


13. The Revolution of Every Day by Cari Luna


14. The Group by Mary McCarthy

bell jar

15. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath


16. Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark


17. The Vagabond by Collette

education of harriet hatfield

18. The Education of Harriet Hatfield by May Sarton

agnes grey

19. Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte


20. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver


21. Possession by A.S. Byatt


22. Don’t Cry by Mary Gaitskill


23. Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

broken heart.singer

24. The Wholeness of a Broken Heart by Katie Singer

on beauty

25. On Beauty by Zadie Smith

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SEE: Searching for Debra Winger [written and directed by Rosanna Arquette]
–honest, refreshing examination of women in entertainment

purchase at Amazon: Searching for Debra Winger

HEAR: Oumou Sangare

download: Seya

READ: All the Stories of Muriel Spark by Muriel Spark

purchase: All the Stories of Muriel Spark

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Make It Stay: book review

Make It Stay by Joan Frank. Publisher: The Permanent Press (March 30, 2012). Literary fiction. 978-1579622275. Hardcover. 160 pages.

It was one of those afternoons the townspeople cherish about autumns here: sky a deep, aching blue, motes of gold in the air—so lovely, Cass allowed to Neil, she had considered taking the day off. Leaves had begun to flush crimson, wine, umber; days filled with a warm-sugar smell. Around and through lazed scents of cola, hot pretzels, smoke from leaf fires (still legal), cut-grass, geraniums. Tips of trees barely stirred.

As a Muriel Spark fan I like short novels. They’re not easy to write. a writer must possess exemplary writing skills. There’s less time for character development, establishing setting and point of view so the writing must be precise and solid. Make It Stay contains lovely writing and vivid descriptions. Author Joan Frank writes exquisitely and unpretentiously. No need to read this novel with a dictionary at the ready but it’s not overly simple either. The sentences are so well-crafted that I wanted to re-read many of them and sometimes did.

Neil, now married to Rachel, is best friends with Mike who is married to Tilda. At the beginning of the novel, the reader finds Neil and Rachel preparing for a dinner party. Rachel asks Neil to tell him about Mike and Tilda. Rachel likes Mike well enough and perhaps mostly due to her husband’s long-lasting friendship with him. She doesn’t particularly care for Tilda. The rest of Make It Stay elucidates Neil and Mike’s friendship, Mike and Tilda’s marriage and Neil and Rachel’s marriage.

They are seated before someone’s desk, as if they were applying for a loan when the camera caught them. Mike, of course, is a smirking satyr, ready for mischief and excess. Tilda looks wary, hair the same lank brown, still cut like a friar’s, as if the scissors had traced the rim of a shallow bowl placed at the back of her head. You could not call her beautiful, but her face had the smoothness of youth, her features pert. A kind of cute tomboy, except for the affectless gaze—unblinking.

The story of Tilda and Mike bears resemblance to Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome. It’s that twisted and dark. Tilda’s dour and, according to Rachel, rather smelly—suffering from rank body odor and halitosis– while Mike’s a gregarious hedonistic flirt. Both have terrible habits from smoking and drinking too much to Tilda’s propensity to steal. Neil’s a responsible, hard-working attorney and loyal friend. [“Neil’s born to draw people together.”] Rachel’s a quiet, faithful writer. [“When exactly is a good time to say, oh by the way, I hate cooking and most forms of social life?”] Make It Stay is about friendship, love and mortality and everything that those things entail. It’s such an enchanting book that I will return to it just to read random passages.

Make It Stay

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