Archive for August, 2010

Summer is ending.

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I’ve been reading some poetry by Alice Fulton recently, and simultaneously her lone novel, the Nightingales of Troy.  I love when poets write fiction, because it is truly the most beautiful fiction.  Aspects of Fulton’s fiction remind me slightly of Lorrie Moore, but this is more a comparison of subject matter (not to say that all writers writing wittily about women and their relationships with other women are reminiscent of Lorrie Moore, although in some ways that would be nice) than prose.

This book takes place sparsely over a century, but this passage is from 1999:

Your father’s hotel isn’t what it used to be,” she said when she returned.  “It’s like Père Lachaise up there.  Dark.  Really dark.  With bottles, syringes, and graffiti everywhere.  There was nobody at the desk, and somebody yelled down, Who youse looking for?  Then a big burly guy appeared.  He opened a drawer full of guns and knives.  I was thinking, if we get to choose our weapons, I’ll choose grammar.

Fulton makes for excellent nighttime reading, when summer is ending and the nights are so noisy.  I have been falling asleep reading How to Eat Supper (this hasn’t changed my dreams like I’d hoped it would–they’re not about food or anything).  I am learning so much from this book–this book is meant to be read and absorbed, not just glanced at, like other cookbooks, I think–and feel like all of my dietary habits are lackluster (popcorn for dinner, anyone?) and need to change.  The new semester is about to start, and all the new freshman are arriving with their little refrigerators and their excited parents with their “I’m a Pitt mom!” hoodies and I don’t wish I were moving into a dorm but I do wish I were going back to school (in a more substantial way).   The best thing about a new semester starting is it gives even non-degree seeking students (me!  hi!) a change to reevaluate and set new goals and work towards something different.  I wish I could buy a new Trapper-Keeper or planner or something exciting.  That would feel substantial.

Starting my weekend off with a little rage

Friday, August 13th, 2010

From Garret Keizer’s very excellent Notebook piece in September’s Harper’s (titled “Why dogs go after mail carriers”):

I don’t want to be a seraph or a sunbeam but a citizen, that is, to live in a physical body and a geographical community, bounded by time and space and served in full equality by incarnate fellow citizens like Shirley B.  I’ll keep my email, thank you, but let my “primary communications carrier” be a unionized worker with his feet on the sidewalk and no wings on his feet.  If I have to wait an extra day or two for a parcel, I can bear it.  I’ve already waited half a century for national health care, and I am likely to be as dead as an undeliverable letter by the time all its provisions go into effect.  It you want to talk about things that move at a snail’s pace, might I suggest aiming your metaphor in that direction.

I am taking my life back from Sweden

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

I spent a few days in Toronto visiting my brother and hiding The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest from anyone who might see me reading it.  I think I can reclaim my life again now that I’ve finished it.  These books are stupidly absorbing.  They also make Sweden seem stupidly enticing.  I don’t even like winter, but now I want to get a cabin & several thick sweaters & fritter away my remaining days on some fjord.  Since that actually sounds terrible, I am just going to take some tips from Maureen Corrigan’s list for future reading.

Pre-Salander finishing, I trudged through Friday Night Lights (H.G. Bissinger).  I read this for a book club, and it made me much sadder than I thought it might.  I am afraid to admit this, but I don’t actually know very much about football (I know, a Pittsburgh girl who doesn’t understand football), and I was surprised to actually learn things about football from this book.  I had incorrectly thought that this was some fluff book about Texas and weirdos who like high school a little too much, but damn, this is actually a book about LIFE and the EIGHTIES and the OIL CRISIS and so much more.  I very much like the show (marry me, Tim Riggins?), but mostly for how out-there the plotline gets.  I don’t know what I expected from the book, but I was quite pleasantly surprised.  It even appears that Bissinger actually researched it quite thoroughly, and this always pleases the reference librarian inside me.

I am on the cusp of finishing Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, which is untouchably gorgeous.  I promised myself I would go back and read things that I read in high school that I pass off as having read but really I don’t remember a word of them.  I am not, however, going to read a Separate Peace EVER. AGAIN.

Other things:

I listened to the Shawshank Redemption last week & this week.  Mistakenly, I spent 25 years thinking this was about Vietnam.  Wow, wrong.  This is another one that I wouldn’t want to read, but it was fun to listen to.  I found out yesterday that I am actually incapable of both reading and listening to Talking to Girls About Duran Duran (Rob Sheffield).  This book perpetuated about 600 gender stereotypes within the first 15 minutes and infuriated me instantly.  I get a little sad when I think that something like this?  THIS?! is selling well.  I think I am just going to listen to Last of the Mohicans next, because there is no way that won’t please me.  My only wish is that I could somehow incorporate the soundtrack of the movie into the audiobook, because that would be insanely perfect.

I want to finish this off with approximately 200 quotes from Song of Solomon, but that would be robbing you of the pleasure of reading it yourself.