Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The livin' is easy

Good golly, Miss Molly, it's been a while since I posted. That's what happens when summer comes: the mind and body slow to appreciate the length of days, the stillness of the heat.

Summer is also a time of reading, and I have been gnawing my way through that big stack of books by my bed: Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me, Shaun Tan's The Arrival, Arthur Slade's The Hunchback Chronicles, Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief, R. L. LaFevers' Theodosia novels, Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small Quartet, and Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light. There hasn't been a dud in the pack. My daughter is currently, lovingly lost in Ann Martin's Doll People books, but our reading was slow going for a bit because she was spending most evenings at her dad's production of Macbeth in Odell Park. Last night, she loudly proclaimed: "A drum. A drum. Macbeth dot com." When you're 5, comprehension of Shakespeare can be a tad limited.

I haven't much to say other than to let you all know that I am still here and to show you through two short quotations from Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light that great writing is great writing no matter what audience it's aimed at.

First off a simple metaphor used to describe the shy, reserved sister, Abby:

"Our Abby is a sprigged dress that's been washed and turned wrong side out to dry, with all its color hidden."

And this, on the single mother of seven in the plank house up the road:

"Emmie Hubbard certainly was crazy, and I was pretty sure the county would take her one day. They'd almost done so on one or two occasions. But I couldn't say that to Tommy. He was only twelve years old. As I tried to figure out what I could say--to find words that weren't a lie but weren't quite the truth either--I thought that madness isn't like they tell it in books. It isn't Miss Havisham sitting in the ruins of her mansion, all vicious and majestic. And it isn't like in Jane Eyre either, with Rochester's wife banging around in the attic, shrieking and carrying on and frightening the help. When your mind goes, it's not castles and cobwebs and silver candelabra. It's dirty sheets and sour milk and dog shit on the floor. It's Emmie cowering under her bed, crying and singing while her kids try to make soup from seed potatoes."

Or as Lady Macbeth puts it, "hell is murky."


So you tell me, how is your summer? More to the point, what are you reading? And whatever it is, does it have passages that make you stop to reread because you simply cannot help yourself?


  1. I read 100 Cupboards recently and really enjoyed it. I also read Uncle Edgar's Tales of Terror, bought for The Girl but which is not going to be read BY the Girl, because it is TOO SCARY.
    (I liked it, though!)

    The Girl seems to be reading Archie comics exclusively.

  2. Ann Martin's Main St. series was a hit here.

    We just came back from the library. I had to bite my tongue when Fiona dumped all those %#@$ Rainbow Magic fairy books in the bag. Altogether, though, she took out about 20 books for the week; she goes through them like a bag of chips, so I just hope there are some of value in the mix each time.

    I just finished Weekends at Bellevue, a doctor's memoir and Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hahn. I brought home Where the Red Fern Grows as a read aloud and The Bluest Eye, because Holly mentioned it.

  3. Where the Red Fern Grows makes me cry every single time I read it. I don't know if I could read it aloud.

  4. i just started reading Anne of Green Gables to Oscar...his first chapter book (though an abbreviated version nonetheless). still, i am way more excited than i expected to be. there is something heady and weighty at the same time in moving into books without pictures, books where he will either attach to the idea of narrative and find there all the things to love that have carried his father and i through our lives...or...well...not. hoping for it. we see the musical next Saturday, so am curious about how the two will work together in his mind.

    after this, would like to try different chapter books and am very open to suggestions.

  5. I am currently reading Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi - which is kind of weird and fascinating and erotic and exotic and yes, I've stopped a few times. "It is still there, even now." I may just send you that page.

  6. The handful of kids books we brought with us are well and truly in need of replacement options, so we are due for another trip to the library. I borrowed a couple of books from my brother, Steve Martin's partial autobiography Born Standing Up was interesting, but not nearly as enjoyable a read as his book Shopgirl. I'm partway through David Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty One Day, which is amusing and easy to pick up and put down.

  7. My 8yo computer-head got captivated by The BFG, and I'm glad he's reading it to himself because it's too scary for my six-year-old!

    I just read Remarkable Creatures (about Mary Anning, the girl who found all those dinosaur skeletons in early 1800), which is a great read but I didn't stop even once over the prose.


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