Saturday, October 11, 2008

Book report!

Why haven't I been blogging? Well, for the past week, I have been completely buried in books. I've read four novels in six days. It's mainly due to the arrivals of my Paperback Swap books, which I picked based on two criteria: either they should be books I've always wanted to read, or they should be books I read long ago and now desperately miss.

It feels weird to be living so intensive a double life, though. I do read a lot, but not quite like this. Finish a book, grab one, finish that. Lift head every now and then and say, "Oh! Where am I? Should I be at work right now? It seems to be 2 o'clock: is that a.m. or p.m.? What day is this?"

I have to stop, I know that: fall is happening out there, my favorite time, and I'm completely missing it! I'll go for a walk today, or maybe convince Scott to take me on an early fall color drive.

But anyway, it's been exciting. I haven't done a total book immersion thing in a long time.

So how about a book report. Here are the books I read this week:

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. I can't discuss this yet, however. This is the current book-club book, and our book opinions are sworn secrets until the Day of Discussion, which is next Sunday. (Well, not really sworn secrets, but it sounds more exciting that way!) Suffice it to say that it was this book that put me in the reading trance in the first place.

Forgive Me by Amanda Eyre Ward. The disappointment. I sent it off via Paperback Swap the minute I finished. Her last book was terrific - I even gave it its own blog entry, and mentioned how I could hardly wait to read her next one. But this was just insulting. You get through a whole story of crisis and struggle in South Africa (that part was what kept me reading) only to be hit over the head with a "woman's place is in the home" billboard. The reporter realizes she doesn't need to be messing around in South Africa trying to change the world when she could go back to Nantucket, marry a nice, rich doctor, and be completely fulfilled by motherhood. Thanks, Amanda Eyre Ward. Goodbye.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Five years ago or so, I was trying to pick a book for the airplane ride home to Denmark, and my then officemate handed me this. I thought, oh, God, now I'll have to read it to be polite, but what do I want with a book about little boys in outer space undergoing military training to defeat insect-like creatures who want to colonize the earth?! I never turned the overhead light off once during the whole night flight. It's not so much the sci fi elements of the book as it is the step-by-step development of the brilliant little boy's military strategy. Who knew I'd be so interested in military strategy, of all things? Anyway, I got the book again this week, plunged in, and was mesmerized all over again. And thanks to Paperback Swap, I got a copy without having to pay for it, thereby very consciously not putting money into its author's coffers. The guy's a great writer, but he's an absolute bigot.

Her Name Was Lola by Russell Hoban. When I was a small child, I loved the Frances books. You probably did, too. Remember the little pencil drawings of Frances the badger? To this day, the story A Bargain for Frances still informs how I make friends. (Frances wisely says, "Being careful is not as much fun as being friends. Do you want to be careful or do you want to be friends?") When I first met Scott, when I was 20 or 21, I mentioned that book and its importance to my social philosophy, and he seized a book off his shelf and said, "You mean this Russell Hoban?!" Turned out Hoban was a prolific writer of novels and was somewhat of a cult figure. I had no idea. The book Scott showed me was Riddley Walker, his favorite novel, which he proceeded to read out loud to me over the next several evenings. (Which was rather romantic, I might add. The reading-out-loud thing, I mean.) More about the extraordinary Riddley some other day, but I became duly fascinated by Hoban, his Orpheus obsession and his infatuation with the creative mind speaking to itself. Every one of his books is unusual and different from the others, but certain threads bind them together. He's in his eighties now, and he wrote Her Name Was Lola in 2003. He weaves all kinds of references to his former stories and novels in there (even Frances!), explores the interconnected depths of the human unknown, as is his wont, and makes you laugh out loud while doing so. There is no other Russell Hoban.

So... now what?! Saturday morning and no book to read! I've forgotten what to do.

Maybe I'll saunter down to Depot Town.

And pop into the used bookstore.