Updates: 8/26/2012

I am feeling so out of it right now. I rode my bike for two hours this morning, and then volunteered at the town library book sale for 2.5 hours this afternoon and was on my feet the whole time, and while that’s probably not a whole lot, it’s all this pregnant lady can handle. I came home and before I knew it I was sleeping deeply. Thank God for naps.

Of course, volunteering is not the only thing I did at the book sale this week; yesterday, Hobgoblin and I checked it out to see what books we wanted for ourselves, and I came home with three: Tinkers, by Paul Harding, The Man of My Dreams, by Curtis Sittenfeld, and The Master Bedroom, by Tessa Hadley. The Harding I can’t tell you anything about except I’ve heard good things about it. The Sittenfeld is one whose title would normally keep me from buying it, but I’ve found I like Sittenfeld very much, so I’ll read anything of hers. And the Hadley I know nothing about, but she’s someone I’ve been meaning to read for a while. We’ll see how they go.

As for reading this week, I finished two books. One was The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson, which I liked a whole lot. It’s more plotty than The Summer Book, for those of you who have read it, although still not very plot-driven. But there is a definite story that keeps you wanting to read further, a story that involves the relationship between a 25-year-old woman, Katri, and an older woman, Anna, both of whom are eccentric, isolated, and set in their ways. Katri, however, wants to make a change — she wants to worm her way into Anna’s life for the financial benefit of her younger brother. How she does this and what the consequences are make up the rest of the story. What makes it so great, though, is the quality of the writing, which is simple and straightforward, while at the same time managing to communicate a lot of depth. As I said last week, I very much like the neutral, non-judgmental narrator who tells us the story while leaving us to draw our own conclusions. Sometimes, it’s necessary to work a little bit to draw those conclusions, with the effect that you’re caught up in the relationship between Katri and Anna, wondering who’s going to do what next. And you’re also left wondering what it means to be a “true deceiver” — what the truth is, exactly, and who is being true to whom.

The other book I finished is a short story collection by George Saunders, The Tenth of December. The book isn’t due out until January 2013, but I won a copy on LibraryThing. I read Saunders’s first story collection CivilWarLand in Bad Decline a long time ago and liked it very much, and I was surprised to see that the first few stories are in a different vein than those in the first book: they are straightforwardly realistic, whereas his stories are typically absurd, wacky, often futuristic in a Brave New World kind of way. About halfway through the collection, though, the stories switched into his typical non-realistic mode, and I felt I was back in familiar territory. I liked the stories, whether realistic or not. They sometimes got a little too close to false sentimentality, but most of the time, Saunders gives you characters in trouble, pathetic, difficult people, and he makes you care about them. The stories are often about difficult family relationships: parents who mess up their kids, messed up kids dealing with dealing with their messed up parents. Husband/wife relationships gone bad. Sometimes they are about exploitive work situations that force people to make impossible choices. They are all about people in deep trouble, trying to figure out who they are and clinging to some vestige of their humanity.

Oh, if you like essay collections, I highly, highly recommend George Saunders’s The Braindead Megaphone. It’s excellent.

Just last night I started reading Kate Atkinson’s Behind the Scenes in the Museum and am only a few pages in. I didn’t love her book Case Histories, but I’ve heard enough good things about her non-Jackson Brodie books that I wanted to give her another try.

Finally, here’s the latest pregnant belly photo, at 17 weeks (there are always books and a bike in the background of these things, aren’t there!):

This week is the beginning of the semester — not of classes, but of the meetings that lead up to classes. So my life will soon get much busier. Sigh.

Have a great week everyone!

14 Comments

Filed under Books

14 responses to “Updates: 8/26/2012

  1. I’d be ready for a nap after that day too and I’m not even pregnant! You are looking great! Will you be finding out the sex of the baby or will you be surprised? Your new books sound good as do the ones you have finished. Thanks for the tip on Saunders, I like the sound of absurd and wacky stories mixed in with realistic ones!

  2. Love seeing the photo! And ha, welcome to the world of pregnancy – bed by nine, five meals a day and a nap in the afternoon whenever possible! After all, you are growing a whole new human being, which requires much sleep, rest, relaxing entertainment and many, many treats. Make sure the Hobgoblin gets your orders in (perhaps one of those little tick the box cards that they have in hotels might be useful here? ;) ) And you remind me that I own a copy of The Braindead Megaphone and must get to it!

    • Litlove, I love the idea of those hotel cards! I’m busy thinking of what all I’d put on there. Chocolate chip cookies would definitely make an appearance :) My naps have been wonderful, except that they sometimes keep me from sleeping at night. Or perhaps I wouldn’t sleep well at night anyway? Who knows. Oh, well.

  3. I’ve been so out of the blogging loop – you are pregnant!! Congratulations. You look wonderful. And, after that kind of day, I would be having a nap too. Actually, the only yoga I’m doing lately is Yoga Nidra which is practically nap time :) Anyway, congrats again!

  4. You remind me how sleepy I was during the whole thing! You look quite glowing I must say. It seems to me that you have full enough days as it is, don’t worry about feeling tired, it’s quite normal!

  5. It’s amazing that you still keep biking and active while pregnant. You look great and I look forward to your continual blogging throughout your pregnancy and later your exp. of motherhood. All the best!

    • Thank you, Arti! My focus will probably get more personal over the next year or so than it was before, and that seems right. I’m liking the “update” format of my posts so far, as it gives me a chance to talk about a lot of different things in a natural way.

  6. I think a two hour bike ride and a library sale (as a worker even) would wear me out as well! Everything probably feels very different to you now–you’re going to have to reorient your world, aren’t you! :) I really need to read Curtis Sittenfeld and I’m curious, too, about Tessa Hadley. I’m so glad you are back to blogging again–love hearing about the baby, the bikes and the books–and yes, you do really look great (and very happy!).

  7. Danielle — thank you! Yes, I’ve been very happy. People say I’m “glowing,” although I suspect that’s just what everyone says to pregnant women :) This year is definitely going to be all about reorienting. It should be fun.

  8. Oh wow – I’ve been slow to read blogs this last month and missed the fact that you are pregnant! Congratulations – you look wonderful and very happy! Hope you’re having an easy time of it.

    I loved The True Deceiver – it was the first Jansson that I read. It is very different from The Summer Book isn’t it? I happened to LOVE the dog in the story, as well as the strange relationship between Katri and Anna. I think that Jansson is rapidly becoming one of my favorite writers.

    • Thanks, MIchelle! I am having a very easy time of it so far, which is great. I had very mild nausea for a while, but it’s been gone for the last two months, and that’s about it (except the weird digestion stuff, about which I’ll say no more!). I agree that Jansson is such a great writer, and she’d be somewhere on my list of favorites too, I think.

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