Monday, December 8, 2014

a book in a day plus some other reading

I have been oddly blue (I think it has to do with the despair that evoked my previous post and just the stupid season. bearing down on a bad anniversary), so I decided to read my way to "less blue." I checked books out of the library earlier in the week. Mark Strand's A Blizzard of Calm because he's gone but I can still sleep with him (I've probably mentioned, I sleep with books).

My bookmark is randomly stuck in the middle of this collection, page p. 22 of the hardback. The poem is "A Suite of Appearances," II, and the first lines are:

"No wonder—since things come into view and then drop from sight—
We clear a space for ourselves, a stillness where nothing
Is blurred: a common palm, an oasis in which to rest, to sit....."

I feel tired lately from not living up to promises I made to myself, so this shreds me a bit. Also, because he died, I am so, so sad. We lost a lot of writers this year. Dammit.

I also started to read Rabih Alameddine's An Unnecessary Woman, which I plucked off the new fiction shelves in the library, ecstatic that no one had taken it from me.

I adored the first 15 or so pages, maybe the first 20, possibly even 30. But I am shallow and couldn't continue. The protagonist, Aaliya, is smart, funny, older (please do NOT call her elderly. That word is pissing me off lately), loves literature, has survived lots of stuff. But I didn't like her. Her voice is so, so strong, and the author is amazing. The prose is wonderful. But, man, I just ... couldn't. I didn't care.

So I set the "long-listed for the National Book Award" novel aside and plunged into Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now, a young adult novel that continues the pseudo-dystopian themes that seem to appeal to me lately. Except that this novel, like Station Eleven, isn't like the other dystopian novels that I could barely tolerate. It's a novel completely about love. Love and hunger. And, of course, the stupidity of war (and how when adults are involved, children get totally screwed). I started it yesterday evening, set it aside to do other things, then read it this late afternoon and evening, finishing it off like it was my favorite kind of pizza.

Except that it's deeper than pizza.

I have to think about the ending a bit because it bugged me, but I think that's because at heart, I'm a complete "happily ever after" girl who pretends to like dark edges. It ended the way it needed to end. The character development was just on the mark. Daisy transforms from disillusioned, lonely cynic to girl-woman who loves more deeply than almost any character I've ever encountered.

It's awesome, and I'm not at all sorry that I avoided Facebook and texts and the news and other shit to read with my cat draped across my legs, purring, because that's what my cat does when he feels me investing myself emotionally in anything from books to my Girl to Eric Garner to poetry....

Magic cat.

Tomorrow, I have to emerge from my reader's cave to attend to important business (meaning, of course, money is involved), but I'm going to return the book I couldn't finish and the one I devoured, and I'll pluck something else luscious from the shelves.

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