Year in Reading

A Year in Reading: Claire Messud

By posted at 11:00 am on December 2, 2013 4

covercoverI read a lot of wonderful books this year, many of them new, and others simply new to me. I loved Amity Gaige’s Schroder, and Victoria Redel’s Make Me Do Things, Roxana Robinson’s Sparta – to name but a few.

But this year was, for me, most profoundly about re-discoveries and re-readings. I wrote an article on Albert Camus which had me, for some months, living again with those books I felt so passionately about when I was young: not just The Stranger, The Plague and The Fall, but also The Myth of Sisyphus, The Rebel, and his earliest writings, the glorious little book of essays Noces, which is essentially a love letter to his native Algeria, and which can be found in English in his Lyrical and Critical Essays.

coverThen, too, I’ve been writing an introduction for a forthcoming reissue of Jane Bowles’s wonderful only novel, Two Serious Ladies, a book I consider almost my blood relation. I came upon it by chance years ago in college, and felt so strongly about it that I wrote my undergraduate thesis on her work. Her astringent wit, her particular eye, her combination of levity and profound seriousness – Jane Bowles is unlike anybody else. You can read about her all-too-brief life in Millicent Dillon’s fine biography, A Little Original Sin.

In the Venn diagram of the apparently vastly disparate Albert Camus and Jane Bowles, there are more overlaps than you might think (eg North Africa: Algeria for him, Morocco for her), but chief among them is Simone Weil, whom both writers admired and whom Camus championed. So now I’m reading Simone Weil – Waiting for God, to begin with – in order to make sense of why both Camus and Bowles have such significance for me.

More from A Year in Reading 2013

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4 Responses to “A Year in Reading: Claire Messud”

  1. Jessica Shearer
    at 2:03 pm on December 2, 2013

    This is wonderful, and I’m so happy to read that there will be a new edition of Two Serious Ladies. I love that book, and I love Jane Bowles! I think her short story, Camp Cataract, is one of the most chilling, wrenching things I’ve read.

  2. Vol. 1 Brooklyn | Morning Bites: Joseph Conrad, Drone Tweets, Capital Records, Nina Simone Clapping, Rivka Galchen, and More
    at 7:19 am on December 3, 2013

    […] Wonder what Claire Messud read this year? Wonder no more… […]

  3. Marina Sofia
    at 9:30 am on December 3, 2013

    Makes me want to dedicate a year to re-reading Camus and other favourites from my youth as well. Great selection from Claire Messud!

  4. ZK
    at 9:33 am on December 3, 2013

    Schroder. Over and over and over. Such a great novel.

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