Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reading like crazy

Between vacation (many hours on a plane) and required reading for my MFA, I have been reading like crazy. Devouring books. Ignoring all else, including housework, which I often use as a distraction from writing. But, truth be told, I enjoy reading more than I enjoy writing (until I get to that really golden writing spot where things start to come together) so all this reading isn't really suffering for me--and it's been good stuff:

I finished The Best American Short Stories 2011 (I was surprised by how many I had read elsewhere but I loved every single one of them all over again) and plunged into Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach. McEwan is the master of the single day (Saturday) and of tiny, intricate details that make up a moment, and a life. These characters, newlywed and flushed with anticipation, stumble, and flounder, and because of the era in which they live and their particular social class, they can't seem to gain their footing. I'm fairly emotional when I read, but at the end of this book I was sobbing into my cocktail napkin. I'm sure the guy to my right thought I was some kind of nut job.

Then, onto "required" reading which I put in quotation marks because while it was assigned, it's so far been highly enjoyable. First up, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 100 Years of Solitude. How have I not read this before? It's like a long Grimm's fairy tale, sweeping and dark, full of mysterious characters and circumstances of Biblical proportions, with time folding and unfolding. It's a story that should be hard to follow but because Marquez is a master, it's nothing but delight.

And then on to Anne Tyler's Breathing Lessons which is an older one of her books and also one I hadn't read (although maybe I did, I can't say for sure). It captures perfectly what Tyler does best--the minuscule hurts and forgiveness of a marriage, the fumbling through life. The main character of Maggie was maybe a little too sweet, a little too bumbling and meddlesome, but Tyler still manages to keep her human, with motives that are understandable, even if her actions are not. My favorites by Tyler are Back When We Were Grownups (I also think it's a fantastic title) and Ladder of Years. I'd suggest reading those over Breathing Lessons but it will be interesting to find out why this one was selected for the workshop.

It's getting on to be winter now, and there's nothing I love more than curling up with good reading. I'd love to hear what you're reading!

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