WARNING! This is not a foreword- this is a warning: I am trying to work on many projects – writing projects – which means I am forcing myself to be in front of my laptop for a certain amount of time, pecking and plucking away at the words, crazy with the effort to get the story told, to find the words, the rhythm, the way to say what is inside me DEMANDING to be said. In addition to the fiction projects, I’ve been trying to write a blog entry for days – it still isn’t happening. Here’s the thing – I am something of a mess at the moment. I am dysthymic – so I have ups and downs – and for whatever reason, right now, very down – and when I am like this, everything hits me the wrong way. I am currently terrified of a couple of things I am SURE are going to happen (they probably won’t – but being rational also flies the coop) and a few other things I think already have happened (they probably haven’t – but you can’t, I can’t, right now, convince me of this – not really) and to top it off – I have been pretty sick (for me) for about ten days. Been to the doctor. Done the drugs. Getting better but still, not myself. Not myself. So, that’s the context for this book blog – I am not myself, and I am in a very bad place – mood/emotion wise. I am in that place where I hear the words, “And, I’m done,” over and over in my head, like a chant, like a mantra. This too, it will, it shall, it does, right? pass. Yes. Ok. Fair warning complete.
When last I briefed on my recent reads I had just started Deanna Raybourn’s “Silent in the Grave”, the first in her Lady Julia Grey series. Unlike most of my reading, I did this on an e-reader. I keep trying to like reading on a device, but, I have to say, I am just not very good at it. And while I liked the book – Ms. Raybourn skillfully took me out of my IRL-world to a different time, a fantasy, and for that I am grateful – I still think I’d have better liked the book had I been holding real pages in my hand.
After I’d finished my regency romance foray, I moved on to a recommendation from my friend, Sue. I take her advice quite seriously now since I ignored for years her insistence I read Ann Patchett’s “The Patron Saint of Liars” only to finally pick it up and become an evangelical fan of its brilliance. So, I looked forward to “Brother of the More Famous Jack” by Barbara Trapido. I was not as smitten with this as so many people (including Elizabeth Gilbert, who blurbed its front cover) – many of those people being authors citing it as one of their reasons for becoming a writer – seem to be. I kept thinking, “I should be liking this more,” and feeling guilty that I did not. Oh well, to each their own.
After that, I wanted some quick, reliable comfort and so turned to my dear, M.C.Beaton, and number 11 in her Agatha Raisin mystery-cozy-series, “Agatha Raisin and the Love From Hell” and I was not disappointed. Again, this series, indeed, Agatha, like drinks and dinner with a dear – if a little difficult – old friend.
It was definitely time for a non-fiction entry, although, honestly, I am usually reading a few books at a time, so this blog-recount of first this then that and then following that was this is misleading. The reading of many of these overlapped – and while I was finishing these, I was, at the same time, reading others, some of which I am still reading – and more on those later.
Thus, the next book I FINISHED was by Brad Gooch, a memoir, “Smash Cut: A Memoir of Howard & Art & the ’70s & the ’80s” – he knew Burroughs and Mapplethorpe and Warhol and dated Frank O’Hara’s final boyfriend and lost Howard (and many others ) to AIDS and lived the big city parallel life of the small town life I lived and I should have liked this more but it felt – despite the depth of the despairing and loneliness it described – like less than I expected. One shouldn’t compare, but, here I go, I so much more enjoyed Edmund White’s memoirs from the same time – for me – they better captured whatever it was we were going through.
Finally, the book I most recently finished was Sarah Addison Allen’s “The Sugar Queen” – one of my one-cent purchases after having read her first novel, “Garden Spells” (described in my last catching up book blog – CLICK HERE) which was so charming, fast, just enough magic realism to charm rather than nauseate. “The Sugar Queen” was rather less fun for me. It felt more like it was an attempt to recreate the magic of “Garden Spells” rather than tell a story the author really felt compelled to tell.
So, there I am. I am currently reading Larry Kramer’s “The American People: Vol. 1: Search for My Heart” which is very long and taking me a while, obviously. Also, I am ON PURPOSE being slow about Charles D’Ambrosio’s “Loitering: New & Collected Essays” because it is one of those where I keep gasping with recognition and wishing I had written.
And, too, during this reading, I have had a birthday, a few house/pet-sitting gigs (I still have some of the summer left open – hit me up – recommend me), and a cold (which is not an apt description of this morphing hell of a virus/infection) that is hanging on even now despite Z-Pack, codeine cough medicine, and enough liquids to undo the drought in California (and, thus, keeping me in the bathroom MOST of the day – and, alas, night, although, since I can’t sleep – why not?) Too, I have re-arranged (at long last) my TBR-stacks into something like organization – not counting the BOXES of TBR books in storage, just here, in my little batcave, I have 250 (yes, TWO-HUNDRED-FIFTY!) books to be read. And I just asked my dear bookseller at The Curious Iguana to get me another (or a few) and have a galley/ARC waiting as well.
All of which is going on while I work on writing a 1000-word-limit short story; a new novel requiring historical research; and the editing of my first novel in an effort to cut it by a third.
Like I said, HELP ME.