I am generally not into the whole “trapped, sad wife in olden times” genre. Edith Wharton is the only writer who has managed to make that story palatable for me, and it’s on the strength of her writing and the fact that her female characters are generally decent people or very entertainingly terrible people (see Undine Spragg in The Custom of the Country, one of my favorite books of all time).
I love magical realism. I discovered Borges and Calvino in college and fell in love with them. I saw Arenas’ book on a list of magical realism novels somewhere and looked for it for ages, and I was so excited when I found it at a used bookstore.
This was my fourth Kawabata book – the other three were Thousand Cranes, Snow Country, and House of the Sleeping Beauties. As a writer, he snuck up on me. I enjoyed Thousand Cranes, but I didn’t necessarily intend to read a lot of his work.
John Cheever died a few years before I was born. Prior to his death, he was extremely well-regarded, particularly as a short story writer. His collected stories volume was a bestseller, as was his novel Falconer. But since his death, Cheever has basically disappeared from the literary map.