my tragic right hip

Busting out bad joints all over the place

April 24th, 2012

Yes, I Am Still Reading Books

Just not being able to post about them as often, or, well, ever.

Aside, driving into daycare this morning, RRBB kept pointing at the window and saying, “snow!” He was so excited. We had so little snow all winter, and he’s been reading Duck and Goose: It’s Time for Christmas for months. Snow in April, who knew?

So, books. For a while there, I couldn’t read anything. I was stuck in my B’s at Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks (and that book still remains unfinished) and am currently half-way through Burrough’s Naked Lunch (which makes no bloody sense; I don’t care what people say about it; and it’s not remotely as good as Junkie, which I adored) and The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt. But late one night after not sleeping because of the increased dose of prednisone, I managed to finish a great book by William Boyd called Restless about a young half-British woman who becomes a spy during the Second World War (#22). That restored me. I dashed off two Maeve Binchys that don’t even warrant a mention because they aren’t really “books” but more fluff to pass the time when you’re exhausted (#s 23-24) (what is up with her “character sketches in the place of actual “plot”?)…

Then in transit I read two books of poetry, Dionne Brand’s Inventory, which was really lovely and moving; and Ken Babstock’s latest, Methodist Hatchet, which was a little impenetrable for me, even though I found a few poems that took my breath away within the collection (#s 25-26). I still firmly believe that Babstock is the greatest poet of my generation, what he does with language and pacing amazes me at every turn. He also gave me the best advice about writing ever: “put some pressure on it,” and see where it goes. I love that turn of phrase, like my words are in a pressure cooker, giving off steam.

And, I’ve also read a pile of books for work for this public domain project we’re consistently working on — and have discovered that I absolutely adore George Orwell. Who would have known? His novel, A Clergyman’s Daughter, starts off almost like something Margaret Laurence would have written, and then just goes to the most interesting places. I adored it. I also found Homage to Catalonia fascinating and Burmese Days enjoyable (#s 27-29). I really didn’t like Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream at all but it put me in good mind in terms of hearing Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers in my head for days (#30).

And then we come to Save Me the Waltz (#31) by Zelda Fitzgerald. I adored this book. Sure it’s a little all over the place stylistically and a bit muddled in terms of plot, and well, something akin to character abandonment (where she introduces a bunch of characters who are never to be seen again and it’s kind of confusing) but the bits in the middle where Alabama (yes; it’s a terrible name for a main character) strives to become a ballet dancer are excellent, honest, true-to-life, and devastating when you look at the toll it takes on her as wife and a mother. The whole book looks at the struggle for women to actualize themselves when they are bound by their gender and their era, and I think it’s a real gem that deserves to be read more.

I also read The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which got better as it went along (and the whole thing with him putting plays in the middle of his book to carry the action forward was a bit much), and This Side of Paradise, which truly was amazing for a first novel (#s 32-33). And just yesterday I finished The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett, and I was ridiculously surprised by how fun, witty and wickedly good it was (#34).

But before I get too carried away with all the older books that I’ve been reading through my days, I want to make sure that I note that the best book that I’ve read off my shelves in ages was The Free World by David Bezmozgis. It’s an epic book, of sorts, of a family leaving Latvia in the 1970s, landing in Rome, trying to get to the US but ending up on the way to Canada, and it’s incredible. Thoughtful, intelligent, well-written, engaging, and all kinds of other adjectives that I could list on and on — I couldn’t put it down. It’s just a great, great piece of storytelling (#35). Thank goodness I found this when I did because I was honestly about to abandon reading forever because of my Bs. But I’m determined to get through them this month so I can at least move on to my Cs…one of which includes Julia Child’s My Life in France for book club.

Oh, and speaking of which, we read Human Amusements (#36) by Wayne Johnston last month and all found it a bit lacking, wholly, so much so that there’s no point in saying any more.

Whew. Right?

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Girl with titanium hip will rock. Girl with titanium hip will write. Girl with titanium hip will read. Girl with titanium hip will battle crazy-ass disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis. Now stuff that in your spelling bee!

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