Saturday, October 13, 2007

You know, life

(In which the verb "to feel" is used to excess.)

Aurgh. This happens every so often: so much to say, no time to say it. All these glorious jewels and lumps of coal losing their immediacy, and amounting to nothing much, really.

See, even that paragraph above — I wrote it 4 days ago.


Reading. I've done some. I feel like I'm in a slump. Nothing I pick up quite grabs me, with the notable exception of Michael Ondaatje's Coming through Slaughter, which has sat in a stack for years, a gift I simply had no interest in, but one evening I just picked it up, opened it, and started reading. Very poetic. It took a while to find the rhythm; in typical Ondaatje fashion, it's not entirely chronological, and not always obvious whose story is being told. But find a rhythm I did, and whether I understood what was happening didn't matter much, I was along for the ride, but then the last portion felt like a different book entirely, and then it was over, and again nothing I pick up quite grabs me.

The Post-Birthday World (Lionel Shriver) I read weeks ago. While I expected it to devastate me, it didn't. It was compelling enough, but kind of ugly. The language, the characters. If you haven't already heard, basically it follows two trajectories from a critical decision point (a kiss!) in the protagonist's life. Great concept for a novel, but none of the characters apart from Irina felt real, which maybe isn't a flaw, the point being made that we really are the heroes of our own lives, all the others merely bit players. I felt distanced (deliberately?) And of course, it's kind of the point that neither path has an entirely satisfactory conclusion, but it was more depressing than that — just ugly. It made me feel dirty even, to dare to consider the "what if," which I'm not sure was the point or has to be the case. I feel scolded for considering that things, banal things, could be any different than they are. Or maybe that ugliness isn't really there in the book — I'm juxtaposing it from some other part of my life (but where?) onto what I read, or expected to read. There's a different kind of discomfort with this book than with Kevin, and I can't put my finger on it. Maybe identifying that discomfort is the point.

I'm trying to read The Railway, by Hamid Ismailov, but I'm getting nowhere.

I'm trying to read The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper. I'd had it in the back of my mind to get to this someday, and one day there it was in front of me, a used copy with a dark, sketchy cover and great illustrations within. It felt like a sign, finding it that day, when I was at loose ends for what to read. But. Maybe I'd appreciate it better in the dead of winter.

Yikes. Is that all I've read (been trying to read) lately?

I've picked up Danielewski's Only Revolutions off the stack countless times, but I get hung up over which end to start reading from first, and that's just too hard for now.

I read, a month ago already, Patrick Hamilton's Unknown Assailant, being the last part of the Gorse Trilogy (the first two bits of which I read about a year ago, and this third having been not previously available). I had things to say about it, I think, and I'm stunned to discover I didn't document those thoughts here. It's decidedly weaker than Hamilton's other books, but still there was insight into character, less Gorse's than that of his victims (and I think that's a strength).

I'm starting to worry that this slump, this mood, might colour whatever book I choose to pick up next, that the next book if read at any other time might be the greatest novel ever, but in current conditions might go unrecognized by me.

So there you have it. Blah.

Work is a bit trying these days, for various reasons but a major one being the office just moved to a new location. And while it thrills most of my coworkers, it bothers me that we're now on top of a shopping centre with its massive food court giving the illusion of choice and I have to walk through the mall to and from the metro, threading my way between glassy-eyed shoppers who don't know the rules of escalator usage, and I've yet to settle on a coffee spot, and when I do, I'll still have months of training the barista to know to start my espresso, allongé 3/4, as soon as he sees me coming. All of which makes me feel angry.

The long drive to see my mother for Thanksgiving, and the long drive home, with near intolerable sleeping arrangements in between.

And I feel sick. My head won't stop hurting, partly for inadequate sleep, partly for the noises and fumes of the final renovations of the new office space and the fact that the temperature is not yet balanced (ie, it's fucking cold). And now I'm just whining. How pathetic.

I'm just not altogether here.

The girl, though, through all this is fabulous. And I feel remiss for not documenting her full fabulosity. I will try harder.

And my cat is amazing.

I did find a book this week. By accident. I'd never heard of it. I brought home Letty Fox: Her Luck, by Christina Stead. From the opening page, it feels perfect. (Does it qualify as chick lit, I wonder.) I feel a little bad for leaving other books unfinished (it's out of character, besides), but I think I'm going to go read it now.


Suzanne said...

Thanks for all the various updates! I hope the new barista learns the drill soon. And that you're feeling better soon. And that you get your reading groove back again soon.

Bybee said...

I'm at the 200-page point with Letty Fox.

Isabella said...

Bybee: I'm at just about 150. Finding it compelling and truly unique.