Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Summer's Leisure

It's not that I'm any less busy during the summer or any busier in the winter, life just seems to slow to a crawl in the summertime. It could be the oppressive heat and humidity that just makes the weight of daily life seem so much heavier to carry. Or perhaps we all harken back to the childhood summers with no school, long days, and endless games of basketball in the driveway. Either way, summer always moves at a slower pace for me. It's like one big Country Time commercial (and by the way, if the narrator of that commercial doesn't just make you want to sit on the front porch until the cows come home, nothing will). So, I make a pitcher of lemonade and settle in with my books and movies and music and watch summertime just drift on by.

I started this summer by reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, simply for the fact that I've never read it. It continues to pop up on all of the "classics" lists and even though I've only read a 1/4 of what appears on those lists, I thought perhaps I would give it a whirl. It's not bad. The idea that there is only one tree that actually thrives in an urban atmosphere is both hopeful and mildly depressing. And it serves as a wonderful representation of the main character. So, I'm about half-way through and continue to read a few pages as time allows (or as I allow time).

Next would be A Thousand Splendid Suns, which I read in a week because I kept waiting for something good to happen. And little "good" things happen all the way through, but I'm not sure Afghanistan has ever been the land of milk and honey. And if you are an Afghan with a vagina, you are SO screwed, in so many more ways than one. God bless the USA, is all I can say about that.

I found an Anne Rivers Siddons book on several weeks ago. And I thought I had read everything she had written (with the exception of John Chancellor Makes Me Cry because a) I don't know who John Chancellor is and b) I don't think fiction writers should write memoirs or memoir writers should write fiction. It's just a personal rule I have. Probably goes hand-in-hand with my Virgo-ism). But I found Sweetwater Creek. It was a coming-of-age story with a sweet, albeit not entirely satisfying ending. A nice, easy pool read where you can hold the book with one hand and a mojito in the other.

And lastly because I felt like I needed a mind-engaging novel to follow that one, I started The Tropic of Cancer again for about the 5th time. I know that the last time I tried to read that book was 1995 because I found a ticket stub from a Chicago theater stuck in chapter 1. This time I made it half-way to chapter 2. I will not give up but it's such a complex and twisting book that I really need the Kindle to get background on most of the paragraphs. And then there's the sex. Oh, there's the sex. This book was banned in something like 70 countries..and if it was not being sold with the Playboys, I can see why. It's not like the Kama Sutra where you open it and know that you're going to get pictures and positions and diagrams with sells under a completely innocent profile..until you realize that they are expatriates in Paris and you are in for an entire book of feast and orgy. Several times I've had to put the book down and turn on Animal Planet...which sometimes, admittedly, made it worse. Henry Miller, you are one populating individual.

So, as I bounce back and forth between A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Tropic of Cancer, I will be adding Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs. I loved Running with Scissors even before they ruined it with a full-length feature film so I think this will be just as promising. And my sister absolutely adored his next book, Dry. It is shaping up to be a very busy, slow summer, exactly as it should.

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