“I’ll read 50 more pages of this book,” I thought as I got into bed last night. “Just 50, and then I’ll have half the book left to read.”
Friends, I was up until I read the very last page. I consider this a two fold triumph: 1) my concentration has improved greatly. 2) I found a fantastic book.
Sadly, there’s also 3) I think I read it before.
Wake Up, Sir! by Jonathan Ames was the book; it’s an odd mix of Wodehousian sensibility with a hero that’s a mix of Bertie Wooster and Woody Allen in every Woody Allen movie (FYI I hate Woody Allen movies, but somehow it worked) (also fyi I stole that combination from Goodreads reviews, but it seems a near universal description). It didn’t read like someone trying to write like the great P.G., more like someone who has absorbed so much Wooster that they start thinking like him. And to clarify, I don’t mean that the book is written like that, more that Alan ACTS like that. It’s pretty great.
I’ve read a lot of good books this spring & summer. I’ve started the Dark Tower series by Stephen King (on the recommendation of a coworker who has been lending me them. ‘If you can get through the first one, the rest are amazing!’ she promised, and she’s so right). I also read the first Wheel of Time book with the second in my to read pile. I liked it, but didn’t love it — it felt dry in a way I didn’t expect. There was some charm missing, somehow: it was dark and panicky and relentless. I was wishing for a few more visits to, say, a place like Rivendell. Even Bilbo had some peace now and then on his journey to Smaug.
Then there was A Wizard of Earthsea, which I remember trying to read as a kid and not liking. It’s YA, i guess, but even Le Guin says she thinks the distinction is a bit odd. It had the moments of peace I was missing in the Jordan.
There’s a lot of fantasy in the list and that’s on purpose: I need the escapism that fantasy gives. In my exhaustion and sorrow, I need to live in other worlds for a while.
In the current pile of to reads is a Dave Barry book because everyone needs some levity, the next Wheel of Time, an Agatha Christie and a Dorothy L. Sayers because a good british murder mystery is a fantastic palette cleanser, a Mercedes Lackey, Catch-22 which is a reread but is on my classics list, a Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy because I want to support Sam Maggs, the final book in the Magician’s Trilogy, Alexandra Petri’s book because I love her, Darkness at Noon which is also on my classics list, and the Just City by Jo Walton because I’m not brave enough to face the sorrow of My Real Children but I love her writing all the same. Basically, I have a lot of worlds to read — and I am so glad I’ve gotten myself to the point where I can focus in on them.
And the very best news of all is that Scarlett Thomas’ new book comes out on July 1st. God, I love her. She may be my favorite contemporary author (it would be a tight race between her and Terry Pratchett). In the past her books fell into my life at exactly at the right spot, like a puzzle piece. If I’m lucky, this one will too.