It's September: the days are becoming noticibly shorter, the temperatures beginning to drop a little - after a miserable summer of drought and record heat - the leaves barely beginning to change color already. All those long evenings we'd become accustomed to, dedicated time for my husband and youngest son to practice crashing flying their new-this-year hobby remote control airplane are suddenly gone, POOF!, almost before we had time to notice it was happening. I don't even want to think about how quickly the holidays will arrive...
All that's the inevitable, annual shifting of normal life, nothing compared to a year spent going up and down with my father-in-law's battle with gastric cancer. He was diagnosed in February, enjoyed good energy all summer long - thanks to the right combination of chemo drugs - but is now faced with the horrible choice of what now. The drug cocktail that allowed him such good "quality of life" is no longer effective and he's faced with selecting the next plan of action. Staving off the inevitable is the new goal, keeping him here as long as possible with the greatest degree of comfort. Puts the rest of life into perspective very quickly.
Despite all the vagaries of life, one thing that's remained steady is my reading. Overall, I may even be reading more than usual, though I'd vowed to take on less to give me more time for everyday things. Turns out I prefer every day stuffed with reading.
I'd kind of suspected that.
But I haven't kept up with writing about my reading - not even longhand writing, much less blogging. And what I check out of the library? It long ago surpassed excessive and has now become a problem. I can't find all the bloody books to return them, which means I'm spending this weekend scouring the house, locating the materials and taking them back on Monday. I've had to make an actual vow to do that. It's a dilemma only bibliophiles would understand. Look away, lest ye become infected.
Quick look at a few things I've read lately:
Coffee House Press, February 2013
[Review copy from publisher.]
Mum's the word 'til closer to publication.
Lovely, formulaic gothic that reminded me of Picture of Dorian Gray. Really a delightful twist on Wilde's novel.
At a mere 160 pp. it's the perfect book for an afternoon's reading, especially on a cold, gray day.
Working on Alexander McCall Smith's 'Professor Dr. Von Igelfeld' series of short novels. The publisher keeps sending me Smith's titles - in all his serieseseses - and I keep not quite getting to all of them. But no more!
Well, the Shortlist is coming out next week, Monday or Tuesday I believe. At this point I'm thinking why torture myself with the Longlist? Wait for the short, see what makes it and go from there. I'm fairly firmly decided on my two best choices for the winner but I still may read others if necessary. Quite a subjective goal, this one.
My two predictions as of today:
Why? Because Self has the pre-made reputation and this book's just "out there" enough to satisfy those who say the Booker's old and stuffy. Which, of course, it is but that's how institutions tend to be.
Because so many readers have loved this quiet book, by a previously all but unknown writer, whom many feel should have larger exposure.
Though I personally didn't care for this novel over-much and tossed it into the "no way" pile, there's a good chance it will still be in the running come the Shortlist. And if it's still there, the feeling many readers have expressed may reflect the opinions of the judges.
Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye, transl. from the French by John Fletcher
How to describe how fine a novel this is...? Here's a blurb sentence:
"In this new novel, the first by a black woman ever to win the coveted
Prix Goncourt, Marie NDiaye creates a luminous narrative triptych as
harrowing as it is beautiful."
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Well. Everyone loves this book, if I can judge from what I've read about it from those moved to comment. It's entertaining, filled with quirkiness and all that. I just find myself thinking "I could be reading something else" every time I pick it up. Maybe I'm not far enough into it and am too impatient from reading NDiaye's book - with masterpiece qualities - at the same time.
Definitely not giving up on it yet.
For review or book groups:
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I've read it multiple times, so I'm only skimming through it. It's nothing, repeat NOTHING, like the films. It isn't the story about a man and his monster; it's about humanity's rejection of those who are different, the struggles of unconventional people, etc. The plots in the films bear no resemblance at all to Shelley's novel.
A man shares a love of reading with his mother, who's dying from cancer. Not as grim as it sounds.
You know. Standard book group fodder.
The Confidant by Helene Grimillon, trans. from the French by Alison Anderson
For Booklist review.
Rasputin: The Untold Story by Joseph T. Fuhrmann
For Library Journal Review
The Blackhouse by Peter May
For BookBrowse review.
About all the time for catch-up I have time for right now. Review deadlines loom large...
Back to life and the associated issues related thereto, as always, nose buried in a book.