Saturday, January 09, 2010

All inclusive

I need a vacation.

Sure I had a Christmas break, but 7 days in a small house with family members I see only a few times a year ends up being more exhausting than relaxing. (Let us not relive the 7-hour journey by car in the rain with the cat, or the return journey by train with just the child, who after days, weeks, of anticipation of our rail adventure could muster only expressions of tired and cranky. Let us not dwell on our mother taking to bed for a few days. Too much time cooking and cleaning, not enough time just being.)

In about 10 days' time, I expect to wake up to the sound of the ocean, with the only obligations facing me for the ensuing 7 days being to drink a mojito or two while sitting on a Cuban beach, exchange a word and a kiss with my lover, and maybe do some reading.

It's the first time I take a vacation of this sort — it's not "travelling" around the country, no high-intensity museum visits; it's not puttering about the cottage; it's not hanging out with family and friends. It's an all-inclusive beach resort vacation.

I expect to sleep, read, sleep, swim, eat, drink, read, swim, sleep some more, drink some more. I've agreed to do everything in my power to make it happen such that we see a baseball game.

It's the reading that worries me.

How many books is enough? Other vacations have never presented this problem. They were designed for doing other things. Books were for planes, trains, bedtime. But this vacation — it's almost meant for reading.

The following books were picked up in November, intended to get me through the midwinter deep freeze, before I'd decided to go south:

The Wind-up Bird Chronicles, Haruki Murakami, trade paperback, 624 pages.
The Invention of Morel, Adolfo Bioy Casares, trade paperback, 103 pages.
Memories of the Future, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, trade paperback, 256 pages.
Atonement, Ian McEwan, mass market paperback, 496 pages.

J-F has promised to bring in his luggage the copy of The Old Man and the Sea I got him for Christmas. This book has the most Cuban flavour of the lot.

Is that ridiculously too much? If so, which books do I cut? Is it enough? Do I bring more? Should I be deciding by page count? Am I right to be leaving The Magic Mountain behind (I'm only about a quarter of the way in) because I think it's too heavy (physically, I mean, as a hardcover). Is it better to have lots of little books or a couple big books?

Should I be bringing Chess Story (Stefan Zweig), or Sunflower (Gyula KrĂșdy)? How come The Girl Who Played with Fire isn't out in paperback yet? Is there something quintessentially Cuban I ought to be reading? Has anyone read The Halfway House, by Guillermo Rosales?

What if I run out of reading material? Can I get books in English (or French, or Polish will do in a pinch) in Cuba?

How do other people manage this stress?
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