Diving into the blogging pool.
Absent since January, I need to plunge. Head first.
What happened? Well I got wrapped up in books – long, long books. First Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, then Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries. Then Tartt’s book a second time for book club, because I couldn’t hold onto all the richness of the first read.
Big tomes shut me up and the blog down for a bit. They seemed so much more interesting than my own thoughts.
So I’ve been reading, not writing.
What else have I read?
Here’s a smattering. Jo Nesbo’s The Son. A bunch of Robert Craig -- Chasing Darkness, The Sentry, The Watchman, Suspect.
Back to lit fiction: Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, a beautiful historical novel set in Germany and France during and after World War II.
Then Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train for book group (a book, which for my taste had a setting, and characters that were too shallow and simplistic. Think junior high school.) While reading, I argued with the writer’s sense of Maine. I know Kline has lived there – but how and how much? Is she there, as I suspect, mostly on vacation?
It’s sometimes dangerous to read about places you know too well. I asked myself am I just picky? Would any book set in Maine please? To counteract, I picked up Elizabeth Strout’s The Burgess Boys. And the answers came boomeranging back: Yes. I am picky. Yes. There are writers who understand Maine and its world as I do – only better. Strout nail’s Maine and its people – how they attach to it and move away from it, come back to it and reflect on it. But then why shouldn’t she?
Pulitzer Prize winner for Olive Kitteridge, Strout pulls her stories from the crimes and headlines of the recent past, and her characters from her life. Born in Portland, educated at Bates College in Lewiston, she now makes her home in both Maine and New York City, with her husband Jim Tierney who has some biographical details in common with her fictional characters. She sets The Burgess Boys in both New York City and the in fictional Shirley Falls, Maine, a small town that closely resembles the Durham, Lisbon Falls- Lewiston area. Heck, Shirley Falls even has a Moxie Festival, just like the one Lisbon Falls celebrates each year. (Moxie is a bitter Maine cola that tastes something like Dr. Pepper).
Then, in the last two weeks, I took a long car trip from Virginia to Maine and back. While driving I listened to books on the long list for the 2014 Man Booker Awards. On the way up, I heard Richard Powers’ Orfeo.
On the way back listened to The Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World. Both are written by geniuses. I cannot imagine living in either’s head, but I enjoyed lovely visits. Both are works on and about aesthetics and culture: Powers writes eloquently about music in last 100 years. Hustvedt explores gender and identity in the contemporary art world. Will follow up on these two later this week.
Enough for now or I will rattle on and never post.