I'm in a lovely book club, with some favorite friends. Coey and Mrs. B of The Literary Stew formed the group a few months ago, just in time, as I had gone back to reading Books For My Pleasure--not just Books For The Children and Books In Aid Of Parenting or Books About Rising Above Your Shitty Past/Self, a.k.a Buddhism With A Trademark. When the kids were, baby-babies, it seems all I could comprehend were Babycenter, Babble, Malcolm Gladwell, Ken Robinson, Alfie Kohn and the like. Goodbye Murakami.
Jun 26, 2010
Hitting Those Books Again
I though it serendipitous the first novel chosen for our book club was Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. That was actually the one and only piece of fiction I was able to enjoy during my reading dry-spell of sorts. I loved it then, and I loved re-reading it. Made me cry in the same parts... as well as in some new ones. The boy with autism in the book is one of my all-time favorite young protagonists. You get a rare chance to see into his mind and understand his feelings (yes, people with autism have feelings) thanks to the author. It's no surprise that Mark Haddon used to teach special kids. He must have been a great teacher.
Coey was in charge of picking our next book and she chose another winner: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. The first half waxes philosophical quite a lot. I took her words in by sipping it slow. Barbery had some sentences that were just so beautifully thought-out I would read them several times over. Sometimes I'd think, did she mean this or that? For the record, she has the most erudite and profound explanation for why Japanese spaces are made more poetic by sliding doors. Who knew? But I agreed! Renee is a wonderfully unique protagonist, but Paloma... oh the young, angry, suicidal Paloma! I have a soft spot for the Palomas and Holden Caulfields of this world--fictional and otherwise. If you have read The Catcher in the Rye and meet The Hedgehog's Paloma character you may catch my drift. The second half is when the plot thickens with some good old love and romance. Then it ends... sigh... bringing tears of shock, then melancholy and--oddly--a creeping sense of joy.
Now I wax philosophical a bit myself and think... this back-to-the-books stage marks a milestone for me as a mother. Yup, a mother. Apparently, I'm more settled about this parenting business. No more pressure to read so much Crucial Research as if to acquire some sort of Parenting PhD from the University of Google, Amazon and Powerbooks. That pursuit still interests me a lot, and yet, here I am, when I can enjoy an evening like this....
After enjoying Geronimo Stilton, Fancy Nancy and some funny Silverstein poems with the kids, they are sound asleep. Pappy is watching downloaded TV--without me, his usual viewing partner. Not this night, because I am reading The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Set in postwar England, the old haunted Georgian house in the book is so imposing, so menacing, it's practically the main character--haunted by past trauma and hurt... haunted by a sly, freaky, cruel little poltergeist. There's a sense of foreboding in every page, even in the cheerier parts. To ease the night time jumpiness it gives me, I read it with a glass of wine. Nice. I had fiction-and-wine night, for heaven's sake. My cup just freaking runneth over.