Sunday, October 27, 2013

Two Books and the Aftereffects of a Heart Attack

I've been reading some seriously good books lately.

(I'm tired of talking about Mike's heart attack, frankly. I hope you don't mind. I'm in the process of hovering without appearing to hover. So far, he doesn't seem to mind too much, so I must be hovering wisely. I hope so. I've been doing a certain amount of therapeutic cooking and cleaning. I'm finding that I like my new vacuum, a Shark, better than I ever imagined. The house is cleaner. Attachments for lampshades, blinds, and cobwebs are easy to use. The cat and the dog don't seem to mind the usual whine, yet that whine is just loud enough for me to stop listening, even for just a half an hour or so, for the sounds that Mike makes to prove he's still alive in the other room. It's exhausting, listening for those sounds twenty-four hours a day, simply exhausting. Thank God for my new vacuum.)

So, about my books.

I just finished listening to 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog,' by Muriel Barbery. I like when people mull over philosophical and sociological ideas within fiction. Her two main characters, a middle-aged woman and a twelve year old girl, are both deep thinkers. They come together in a very sweet and surprising way in the story. I can't tell you how it ends. I can't. I'm actually listening to it for a second time. It's that good.

The other book is 'Manhood for Amateurs,' by Michael Chabon. He's funny. He's thoughtful. His essays are linked together in some chatty way, but it's not your usual memoir that moves by using the classic arc. In this book, I learned how Chabon feels about his wife and kids without hearing too many private details about them. I'd never worry about his privacy based on what he's written. He's thinking and he writes interesting vignettes, yet it's not a comprehensive autobiographical sketch. I like that. I don't know why I like that, but I do.

I remember when I met Anne Lamott. I love reading Anne Lamott. 'Bird by Bird' and 'Operating Instructions' are two of my favorite books. Yet when she sat in front of me, pen poised to sign my book, and looked me in the face, I looked away, embarrassed that I knew so many of the sordid details of her life. I did not know these facts because she was a good friend. She was not even a friend at all, yet she had, in a metaphorical sense, stripped naked and run through my house screaming. Nothing was forbidden fodder for her books. Nothing.

So, it was a relief to find an author whose memoir was seriously thoughtful yet lacked that nakedness that Anne Lamott so easily brought to her stories. Maybe I need to read Chabon's book again too. It has been a distraction from watching Mike breathe in the middle of the night. Thank God for my Nook with its Glolight too.

Thank you for listening, jb

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