So Hobgoblin, Muttboy, and I are back home after a trip to upstate New York to visit my family. The trip was fine. I complain about how hard it is to visit my family, but the truth is that they are totally fine and the problem is all with me. I just read Litlove’s post about how hard it is to be sociable, especially when you are introverted and sensitive to other people’s feelings, and I recognized myself in everything she wrote. There is just too much going on when I visit my family — too many people, too many emotions, too many memories, too much conversation, too much uncertainty. And these days there are new people to meet all the time — new boyfriends and girlfriends (I have six siblings, all of whom are younger than I am), and I have to figure out not only what I think of them but what they think of each other and how they change the family dynamic for better or for worse. This time around only two of my siblings could make it along with their respective boyfriends, but even though the numbers were relatively small (only eight people, including my parents, out of a possible 15 or 16, depending on whether my littlest brother is dating anyone or not), there was plenty to think about. I’m tired.
I got a nice stack of Christmas books, though, which is the real point of this post. First of all, a good friend sent me Bernard Malamud’s novel The Assistant. She said it was the best novel she’d read last year, and as she is one of the most discerning readers I know, I’m sure it’s good. I read Malamud’s The Fixer quite a few years ago and enjoyed it, but this novel looks to be quite different, as it’s set in Brooklyn rather than in Russia.
On Christmas day I had a few books waiting for me under the tree; first of all, Hobgoblin gave me Claire Tomalin’s biography of Jane Austen. I love Austen so much it’s a little ridiculous I haven’t read a biography of her yet, and after reading Tomalin’s bio of Samuel Pepys, I know she’s the one to read. Then I got a copy of Gabriel Josipovici’s Everything Passes, which my sister found on my Book Mooch wishlist (I made sure my family knew about that list, just in case they wanted help choosing books — there are something like 170 books on that list, so there is plenty of room for surprise). After reading Litlove’s review of the book, I’m thrilled to own a copy. I also got an eighteenth-century novel: Charlotte Smith’s Emmeline, in a beautiful Broadview edition. Looking at the Broadview website, I see that there are dozens if not hundreds of books I’d like to order right now. Finally, I got a copy of Bohumil Hrabal’s Too Loud a Solitude, which I’ve seen highly praised on blogs and which promises to be a good read.
But that’s not quite all. My dad wanted to go to Barnes and Noble on Friday to use his gift cards, so Hobgoblin and I joined him. I wasn’t planning on buying anything, but I knew if something struck my fancy, I wouldn’t leave the store without it. So when I came across David Foster Wallace’s book of essays A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, I didn’t resist. It will make a nice contribution to next year’s nonfiction reading. It’s clear where I got my book-loving genes from — I was exhausted and ready to leave the store a good half hour before my dad made his choices. I had to retire to the cafe to rest up while he was still happily browsing.
I’ll be back soon to write a year-end wrapping up post or two …