I admit, I’m always too ambitious about the books I take on vacation. I take too many. I’m picky. For the whole week before I leave, I shuffle books in and out of the deck like playing cards. I try to go with variety, so if I get tired of ‘this’ I can always put it down and pick up ‘that.’ But this past week of vacation was more about working on my own book than reading others, so I was less discerning about the novels I took with me and, for the most part, disappointed in my choices.
(1) Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go — I read the first few pages and decided that, even though the writing was good, I wasn’t in the mood for such a quiet mystery. Maybe another time, when I’m not drowning so much in the realism of writing my own book. Rex decided to read it, and here’s his take: it’s deep, it’s literary, he liked it. He’s still not quite sure exactly what it’s all about, but from the reviews I’ve read I think that’s part of the point.
(2) Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone — nothing against this novel (though you know I’m leery of the best-seller) but I decided I didn’t have the time to invest. And I want to enjoy this story whenever I finally get around to it.
(3) Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies — This is my book club’s choice for October, and honestly I was very much looking forward to getting into it. Phenomenal reviews, etc…. I’m 100 pages into this one and just now getting used to the rhythm of the story, told from 4 different perspectives. It’s based on a true story, and I want so much to love it, so I’m going to plow through and hope it surprises me. But thus far, I’m on the fence.
Now for the good news: one day we stopped at the local independent bookstore and I was happy to see Emma Donaghue’s Room sitting front and center, on the new-release shelf. I’ve been waiting for this one, so I was thrilled! Took it home, started reading, and could hardly put it down. Finished it in 2 days! The California case of Jaycee Dugard served as the inspiration for the story, which initially made me skeptical. But my skepticism flew right out the window once I started reading. I don’t want to say too much about the story and spoil it for you, so I’ll just say 2 things: I enjoyed the 5-year old narrator’s 1st person perspective much more than I thought I would, and I keep thinking of certain lines, of his perspective on the world. Like, “The world is full of repeats.” Particularly in the last 1/2 of the story, I found myself looking at some very common day-to-day things from a different perspective. And isn’t that the point?
On another note, the anthology Mamas and Papas: On the Sublime and Heartbreaking Art of Parenting (with my short story “The Happy Treatment” about step-parenting) is coming out in October from City Works Press. Yea! Love the cover.