What We’re Reading / What You’re Reading 04.12.2013


It’s time for another Friday edition of the segment where we fill you in on what we’re reading, and we hope that you’ll reciprocate by telling us what you’re enjoying (or loathing) as well.

Don’t be shy, we want to hear from you! Feedback from our followers will play a role in helping us to determine what books to read, review, and feature on this site over the coming months. It will also give us a better idea of the topics and genres that interest you.

Karli is currently reading Wise Men by Stuart Nadler

In the early 1950s, Arthur Wise, a modest New England lawyer, wins a career-launching case that earns him and his family a large fortune and a high-profile social status. The Wise family moves to a beachfront property in Bluepoint, but Arthur’s wife and their son, Hilly, aren’t too excited about the move. Hilly is 17 years old, and goes from a life of lower-middle class economizing to the top of the social ladder. Friendless and in a new place, Hilly befriends a black man named Lem, who has been hired as a domestic worker in their home. Soon Hilly begins to fall for Lem’s beautiful and troubled young niece, Savannah, and their budding relationship threatens to destroy much more than reputations. At the same time, Hilly is beginning to realize that, while money has its advantages, it has changed his family and especially his relationship with his father permanently:

My father’s wealth, I had begun to realize, surpassed what most men considered to be normal. Occasionally, I caught something in his behavior, or in his posture, that seemed to me to be close to shame: shame for his good fortune, or an accumulated shame for the misfortune of others. His childhood had been lived a hair’s breadth above poverty. And now this. At seventeen I wasn’t sure exactly how wealthy we were. All I knew was that we had started off without anything, the three of us happily striving in our bungalow in New Haven, and now I was driving my father’s Cadillac, opening it up on route 6, the speedometer climbing as effortlessly as the second hand on my father’s new watch. Beneath my feet the car hummed, and when the transmission shifted, I could feel the possibility in the engine. (p. 117)

Aaron is currently reading Joseph Walser’s Machine by Goncalo M. Tavres, translated from the Portuguese by Rhett McNeil.

Just because Tavres’s novel didn’t make the shortlist cut for this year’s Best Translated Book Award it doesn’t mean that it’s not a superb piece of fiction.  Taking place in an unnamed European city that’s facing the outbreak of war, Tavres’s novel focuses in on the life of one Joseph Walser, a man who loves routine, a man who goes to work in a factory every day operating a machine that could potentially kill him if he doesn’t stay focused.  This very same machine of course keeps him alive, as it provides him with a steady income to support himself and his cheating wife.  The book is filled with wonderful little observations, here’s a short example that you could chew on for hours:

Being happy no longer depends on the things that we commonly associate with the word Spirit.  It depends on concrete substances.  Human happiness is a mechanism.

What are you reading this weekend? Comment below and let us know!

About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.