I’m supposed to be book blogging . . . as in writing regularly about the books I read, growing my base, establishing my platform and expanding my followers list so that, at some point, when some literary agent has considered my manuscript and is weighing the “yes or no” she will be impressed by this erudite blog and its massive list of lovers.
Well, okay. The thing is, since I finished The Swan Gondola, (CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE SWAN GONDOLA) everything else – how do I put this – hasn’t been The Swan Gondola.
I hasten to add that this is my issue and NOT the issue of the books I have since read. Which is why I have not been writing about them. It’s not them, it’s me. I have always been like this. Not just with books; I’ve missed so much of life because I was fixated on what was, or might have been, or what I wished had been. For example, I was in love once, and it was far from perfect and he was not even particularly nice, or kind, or, even, respectful, but, he was who I loved and for years it went on, even though it wasn’t really working and even though he was married and even though I was an after-thought and secreted away and infrequent and mostly waiting, and never allowed to speak about it and then he died, and STILL, I gave up on the possibility of everyone else because everyone else was not ever going to be him. And then, lately, by complete and total accident, entirely without meaning to and completely by surprise, someone managed to break through these walls I thought were so impenetrable. And then, he left. He didn’t mean to break in, he didn’t want to be there, I always knew he would be going, and so, I shouldn’t be feeling this way I am feeling today.
But, I’ve always been this way. And I need to do something about it. So, every book is not going to be The Swan Gondola and I can’t just give up being alive again because yet another trailer has been hooked to the back of another black Jeep and headed out of town to a life I always knew was waiting for him.
So, what have I been reading while being slowly dissolved and left. Again. Since The Swan Gondola and John Doe had their way with me and went their merry ways?
I’ve read other novels by Anna Quindlen and she is a gifted teller of tales, no doubt. She knows how to move a story and limn details that echo in the places inside you where you say, “Oh, yes, that. I have felt that.” This was no different. However, and again – it may well be just that this is where I am in my life right now – I do NOT think that many sixty year olds, divorced, having been dumped by someone, find themselves being wooed and falling for a forty-something, gorgeous man. Just doesn’t happen. A forty-something, gorgeous, smart man is NOT hitting on a sixty year old. JUST DOES NOT HAPPEN. And furthermore, Quindlen’s main character was worrying throughout about money when she owned a Manhattan apartment and was spending months in a sublet, rustic cabin in the woods. Okay. Come on. And magically, not only did she fall in love again, but her photography career was revived and money started to flow and . . . well, whatever. This was marketed as a novel, not science fiction or romance/fantasy or, what I called it as I finished it (in my basement hovel, dodging bill collectors and taxmen, not quite appreciating all Quindlen’s facile romantic/financial/spiritual happy endings) and threw it across the room: BULLSHIT!
I needed something to cleanse my literary palate, and so I picked up a book by the reliable John Sandford. It’s the fifth in his Virgil Flowers series and it is fast and formulaic and has nothing at all to do with real life or any life at all with which I am now, ever have been, or ever will be familiar and because of that, I love it. It is what it is and it’s honest about that.
A historical novel set in the 1380’s, time of Chaucer, this was given me by a friend. I’m not a huge fan of historical novels – though I did like Wolf Hall – because there are usually – as here – too many names and people to keep tallied and clear. In this book, there was a great deal of intrigue as well, and so my inability to clearly recall who was who and what was what took away from the surprise when a back – or a heart – was stabbed. I never felt invested in any of the characters, not really, and so, it was okay but not something I’d recommend. And it was about 150 pages longer than it needed to be.
I couldn’t help but love an author who didn’t publish his first book until well into his – LATER – decades. Gives a man hope. And this first in the series about eleven year old detective Flavia de Luce is sort of glorious. Much fun. Much literary heft. Many laughs. Much joy. I’m saving the delight of reading the others for when I need a boost – hey – I need a boost right now. Alas, my “to read” pile is already too huge.
So, there it is. What I’ve been reading since being left by The Swan Gondola. I did also read Edmund White’s latest memoir, but I’ll have to write about that separately. Later. I’m too busy missing John Doe and wondering how this happened again to write anything very deep and personal at the moment, and my reaction to White’s Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris, is too close to the bone and heart that has lately been broken again. So, like I said, LATER. Who knows, maybe in the meantime some smart, gorgeous 40-something man will fall for me.