What We’re Reading / What You’re Reading 04.19.2013


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.

Aaron is currently reading Happy Moscow by Andrey Platonov, translated from the Russian by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler.

The shortlist for this year’s Best Translated Book award may have been announced already, but with 25 titles on the longlist there are still so many great books get through. This updated translation of Platonov’s Happy Moscow didn’t make the cut, but that makes it no less engaging.  However, what I’m really looking forward to is the inclusion of  several bonus short stories and screenplays.  Platonov wrote a number of screenplays in his lifetime, but none have ever been filmed.

Here’s a passage from Happy Moscow in which Moscow Chestnova is speaking with Seymon Sartorius after the two have just had sex together:

“I’ve just worked it out – why it is that people’s lives together are so bad.  It’s because it’s impossible to unite through love.  I’ve tried so many times, but nothing ever comes of it – nothing but some kind of mere delight.  You were with me just now – and what did you feel?  Something astonishing?  Something wonderful?  Or nothing Much?”

“Nothing much,” agreed Seymon Sartorius

“My skin always feels cold afterward,” pronounced Moscow.  “Love cannot be communism.  I’ve thought and thought and I’ve seen that it just can’t.  One probably should love – and I will love.  But it’s like eating food – it’s just a necessity, it’s not the main life.”

Karli is currently reading The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard

When our unnamed teenage narrator travel to Los Angeles to attend her estranged mother’s funeral, she meets a variety of people from her mother’s tragically glamorous life.  Through these men and women, the young girl pieces together her eccentric mother’s history and answers a few questions about herself.

When our narrator firsts encounters her mother’s possessions at the funeral.  She is struck by a string of odd compulsive emotional reactions:

If it’s possible to feel nostalgia for things you’ve never known, then it was a mixture of nostalgia and curiosity that made me lie down on her sheets and run a bath in a tub scattered with millimetre-long armpit hairs caught on a tide line of scum from the last time she or her husband took a bath.  The party reverberated underneath, and I locked the bathroom door to take off my clothes as she must have done a million times, although she was likely more elegant about it.  She wouldn’t have nearly tripped as her ankles caught in the elastic of her sports trousers, and the various cuts and scrapes on her body probably didn’t burn as they accepted the hot water.  Her scabs didn’t fray and dissolve in the heat as mine did.  Her skin was probably flawless.  I scooped bath water into my mouth and let it spill slowly down my bottom lip.

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.