I was hoping to write a post about Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist, but it’s 9:00 on a Friday evening, and I’d like to get some reading in before I go to bed, so the Baker post will have to wait. You probably know how that goes (well, maybe all of you are out partying on a Friday night; I shouldn’t assume anybody else stays in). I will say, though, that once again today I found myself trying to talk a friend into reading Baker. That happens a lot with me. I mean, what is everybody waiting for?
Instead of writing about Baker, I’ll tell you how things went this week. First of all, I got some more Christmas presents — all in the form of books. People tend to apologize about giving gifts late, but I like it when they come late, because it spreads the fun out a bit more. First of all, I got a copy of Kelly Link’s book Magic for Beginners, which will work perfectly for Kate’s Short Story challenge. And then I got a copy of Frances Wilson’s biography The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth. I’m acquiring a fairly decent collection of biographies of the romantics, which is fun. Eric Newby’s A Traveler’s Life also arrived, and the title is pretty self-explanatory. It sounds exciting.
Also, two books arrived from Book Mooch: Sybille Bedford’s A Favorite of the Gods and Valerie Trueblood’s Seven Loves. Both of these authors come highly recommended from fellow bloggers.
But I’m not just collecting books; I’m working my way through a few, including Miklos Vamos’s The Book of Fathers. I’m about 3/4 of the way through. The book has been intense and full of characters, events, and history. I’ve been enjoying it. I’m also reading the Best American Essays 2008 collection; I almost always enjoy reading books in that series, and this particular volume is not failing me. Adam Gopnik was the editor that year, and he wrote a great introduction to the essay form. How’s this for an opening line:
The essayist, like his friend the hangman, is expected to apologize for his profession even as he practices it.
An excellent beginning to a so-far excellent book. The first essay was wonderful in a gut-wrenching, shocking kind of way, as were the two after it, now that I think about it, and I’m looking forward to reading further.
But there is cycling news too. Because of the snow and freezing temperatures, Hobgoblin and I have turned to our mountain bikes for exercise. For the most part, we are mountain biking on pavement and not on mountains, but when the roads have ice and slush on them, knobby tires work much better than skinny ones, and many days this week, it’s been the mountain bikes that have allowed us to get out at all. I hadn’t ridden on my mountain bike for several years, so when Hobgoblin pulled mine out, I was initially skeptical and uncertain, but I’ve become so grateful he did because without it I would despair at my ability to train for the races that are only eight weeks away. Now, instead of worrying about snow in the forecast, I just look forward to using my other bike. I’ve ridden six days in a row now, four days on the mountain bike, and it’s been so much fun. Today we did some riding on dirt roads and carriage roads in a local park and it was fun in a terrifying, wheels-sliding-all-over-the-place kind of way.
And tomorrow, Hobgoblin and I have a super-exciting literary excursion to look forward to. I’ll be back soon with a full report.