Wednesday, February 16, 2005

isn't today some arcane holiday I could use for a heading?

My four-year-old is drumming Beatles and Radiohead tunes, in his bathrobe. (The white one with the rabbit ears, I might add.) How very…Keith Richards, maybe? Dan thinks it’s more Red Hot Chili Peppers… I think it’s exactly what I deserve for letting him wear a bathrobe with rabbit ears.

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Mimi Smartypants is irrationally pissed off at laundry-hanging ballerinas; I am irrationally pissed off at Mimi Smartypants. Why does a ballerina’s laundry hanging around irritate her? Why? Ballerinas need clean clothes too, and so the clothes they wear are cute and tiny. Would it be better if she was an enormous garbage man hanging up huge blue coveralls? Sadly I think the truth is that Mimi reminds me more and more of a friend of mine who is very much the …how do I put this? …foreign-film-appreciating type. God forbid you go see something mainstream. Even worse if you enjoy it. If you’re not an obscure foreign film star or minor poet or indie rock singer/songwriter, you’re beneath notice. I feel like Mimi is verging on that. Or maybe she’s just PMSing. Maybe I am just grumpy. That’s the most likely explanation all around.

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Ok, while looking for a photo or some interesting link for the huge blue garbageman coverall, I found this. It's a hoot.

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I finished Gracefully Insane last night; no idea what I will pick up next. I’ll be sure to let you know. Ha! As if you could escape.

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I was excited by this bestseller list, because Khaled Hosseini's Kite Runner is Number One. And it's about damn time a really GOOD book topped a bestseller list. But then I realized whose bestseller list it was: Powells. I mean, it does count, but it's not as if Hosseini bumped John Grisham or Danielle Steele off the New York Times bestseller list. (I wish. Oh how I wish. Alas my cynicism a la Jonathan Franzen re: the American reading public abounds.)People who tend to buy at Powell's (gross generalization ahead) tend to be slightly more, shall we say, literary, than the average Joe Schmo on the street who buys a book at the airport to read on his flight. As I mix my metaphors. So when Hosseini tops the airport-book-buying bestseller list, then I shall know that there is hope for the American literary scene. After all that raving, turns out that Kite Runner is merely second on the NYT list, sandwiched between, God help us, John Grisham and Dean Koontz. And I thought Hassan got a raw deal...
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A friend of mine claims that he goes days without opening a book - the very thought terrifies me, as that would be like asking me to go days without breathing, except maybe worse. But the last book he read that he says might even interest me was John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, and what did I think of it? Well, I like John Irving, even if his more recent stuff is incredibly formulaic and some of his novella/short stories are just plain strange and semi-incoherent. Garp is a classic (and the movie is almost as good as the book, one of the few ever that measures up to its source); my personal favorite is probably Cider House Rules. I need to reread Owen Meany before commenting even somewhat meaningfully on it – I vaguely remember something about a dwarf? But then again, that could pretty much be in any John Irving novel…

Which brings me, not at all in any logical sequence, to my next thought. In an NPR interview with Ketzel Levine, John Irving said that he is an enormous Charles Dickens fan. He has read everything ever written by Dickens except Our Mutual Friend, and he doesn’t plan on reading that anytime soon because he is saving it so he has something good to read on his deathbed. And I started to wonder, are there any books like that for me? Books guaranteed to be good, so I need to save them for moments when I need a sure thing? Jane Austen immediately leaps to my mind. I have read the biggies, although I could stand to reread Persuasion, Sense & Sensibility and Northanger Abbey; I have only read them once each. But I haven’t read the minor, earlier ones: Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sanditon. I am indeed (and till now sort of subconsciously) saving them for an unspecified point in time when I need something I know will be good to read. Whenever that may be.

I know I am saving John Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga for a nice long relaxing vacation; this is on Anna Quindlen’s Ten Big Thick Books That Could Take You All Summer to Read (but Aren’t Beach Books) list (from her gem of a book, How Reading Changed My Life), and none of the others I have read from that list disappointed: Lonesome Dove, Gone with the Wind, East of Eden, Can You Forgive Her? (which opens up another whole set of terrific books by Trollope in the Palliser series). Possibly some Edith Wharton or George Eliot would be a sure thing? Maybe Salman Rushdie’s older stuff? I was so disappointed by his last novel, Fury, that I know I can’t count on loving anything new, but I still haven’t read Shame or The Moor’s Last Sigh. There is definitely a list of authors that I am always sure to check for new stuff – AS Byatt, Richard Russo, Beth Gutcheon, Margaret Atwood – but again, no guarantee with new novels. But the Deathbed, Sure-Thing Novel? That’s a toughie. I think for me it’s gotta be the minor Austens. How could Jane Austen EVER disappoint?

1 comment:

lilygurl said...

Did you notice the man's wife's name was Mimi??