Monday, September 1, 2014

The Summer of the Book

"I saw the world I had walked since my birth and understood how fragile it was, that the reality was a thin layer of icing on a great dark birthday cake writhing with grubs and nightmares and hunger."
--Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I've read alot this summer.
I've worked alot, too.
One thing I haven't done alot of is write. And it's been nagging at me.
All this time at work, all these hours spent. I'm spent. And no Maine holiday this year. That's been hard. Having Mike here in the summer, though, is the good part. He gets to enjoy the warm weather and holidays, long weekends and Toronto patios, how every person in Toronto will sit on a patio even if it is a cool summer day (and there have been many cool summer days this summer, believe me).

There's been some healthy rain storms, I've done a few good runs, I made it to New York for a long weekend and enjoyed a mini vacation, and other than work, commute, eat, sleep, run to boot camp and back, nursing my foot back to health, I've done little else but read. Book after book, hour after hour. Shut up inside while the world whirs on without me.

It's Monday morning, August, the "Sunday of Summer" is gone, I'm another year older, and here I am on this dusty blog thinking 'bout "what to think about", as the Barenaked Ladies song goes.

I've been tagged on FB this weekend to make book lists and read book lists and think about books and boy,  I have been, and this year of reading has been a real bumper crop, I have to say. I have had many book hangovers that have left me stupified with wonder and wrung out with tears, I have had books lodge themselves in parts of my soul, and I'm hard-pressed to pick a favourite, but the one by Neil Gaiman that I just finished, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, is right near the top.

Again--mystical fiction, whatever that genre is called. Where the author creates their own alternate reality, but we go along with it, it makes perfect sense, especially as I read in the New York Times about medieval beheadings, and crucifixions in the desert, and war war war in far-off lands, lands that I only see in my imagination, the pictures almost too awful to be real. So the alternate reality is embraced. If the real world can be this brutal and terrifying, then a writer will always be able to re-frame it for me so I can hang a different picture in my head. One where I understand this thin layer of icing, made from powdered sugar, ready to pouf away at any time.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, a most alliterately-pleasing visual name, stands out of the pack, too. Joyful first love. Set against the backdrop of my own youth, the 80s, and a sad family life to go along with it. An amazing read, I promise you.

Along with reading is summer running, a different animal than its cousin, winter running. 
In summer, at least for me, I struggle with the heat, the bright sunshine, and the constant need for water. In winter, I tend to glide along, cold-weather-lover that I am.  A new running outfit and shoes have helped, but the summer cold I picked up after New York did not. I've been a beginner runner these last weeks--struggling mightily, but out there nonetheless, toiling. Digging at the soil, a gardener bringing a loved flower back to life. I'll get there.

So you have it. It's September, the back-to-school-back-to-brass-tacks time. Except there was no let up on the brass tacks for me this summer. I'm hoping for an autumn holiday sometime in the near future ('as soon as...' the promise I make myself endlessly).
Right now I'm on my second cup of coffee, doing some work from home on this Labour Day Monday, and re-organizing.

I hope your summer treated you well.....

Here are a few other titles I got into this summer;
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness and Don't Lets Go Down to the Dogs Tonight,
both by Alexandra Fuller. Curious books, the less-known Cocktail Hour one being my preference.

Once A Runner John L. Parker. A strange little book about running.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake Aimee Bender. I talked about this one in my last post. Loved it. Such an odd premise for a book.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern--more psychological mind-bending fiction. A very visual, sensational book.

The Emperor's Children by Clarie Messud. Another weird read, lots of tangled relationships, a protagonist whom I didn't much like. But the book I liked very much.

I leave you with those. I find it hard to keep track sometimes with all the reading I do but Goodreads helps a bit.

One more small thing--on my birthday last Sunday I missed an international call late in the evening. Is it you, Aunt K, trying to reach me? I had hoped so...I miss you too.

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