Where's the book?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Actually on track

Although I doubt I can keep it up, I am actually on track with the book-a-week schedule. Of course, it probably helps that work is slow and I'm not doing all the other things I really should (exercise, socialize, leave the house). Exaggerating slightly, but I do spend a lot of time sitting down, which I am told, repeatedly and endlessly -- why has the media become so obsessed lately with how much we sit? is it some kind of anti-chair lobby? -- is bad for me. But sitting is just so much fun! And all the things I really like to do (except cooking) involve sitting. It's hard to read a book standing up. Or go to the theater. Or watch Game of Thrones (although I do bounce around a lot for that -- it's hard to sit still when someone is having their head lopped off).

I digress. As I said back there somewhere, I am actually on track. It's the sixteenth week of the year and I have just completed book number 17 (giving myself a little bumper for future longer reads). Drumroll please, here are the two latest:

#16 Zoli by Colum McCann. After reading Let the Great World Spin last year, and loving it beyond measure, and then going to hear him read (charmingly) as part of the launch of this Esquire book, which he edited, I was determined to read more of Mr. McCann. But this book disappointed. It's the story of a Romani (Gypsy) woman, spanning most of the 20th century and told in several voices. But none of the voices felt compelling, and although it was interesting to learn about a world and a people that are completely unfamiliar to me, the writing felt somehow both dense and thin -- hard to get through and unrewarding at the same time. But I will not abandon McCann. More of his work is in my future reading plans.

#17 The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud. A completely different reading experience. This book was very compelling, despite being a relatively simple story. The narrator is in her late thirties, an elementary school teacher, living a
mundane, somewhat sad, existence. But underneath it all she is surging with emotion and desperate to hide her anger, her jealousy, and her desperation. As a young woman, she wanted to be an artist, and dreamed of a life fame and artistic creativity. Now she lives in the town she grew up in, tends to her elderly father and aunt, and teaches third grade. The story focuses on her newfound friendship with a family that moves to town. She falls in love with all of them -- the artist mother, academic father, even the sweet child. They are the artists, the travelers, the intellectuals, the family she wants for herself. The writing has you sitting on the edge of your seat -- you know something dreadful is going to happen, but you can't imagine what direction it's going to come from. Messud captures the envy women have for other women, the sense of betrayal when our needs are not met, and the feeling of dreams that have been swallowed, denied, or simply ignored. It's a powerful and intelligent book.


  1. pretty nice blog, following :)

  2. Thanks Skyline Spirit! So glad comments are working. Ahh, the magical moods of the Internet...