The temperature has been exceedingly cold here in Minnesota—subzero, with and without wind chill. Of course, the only true recourse is hibernation. I opt to go outside as little as I can—going to and from work and running the occasional weekend errand. I would rather hole up under a pile of blankets and read than brave the elements to ice skate or sled or ski.
Both of the boys have been sick over the past few weeks, never at the same time. As a result, I have managed to read quite a bit on all my sick days. Last week I finished The Shadow of the Wind in an epic three-and-a-half hour reading session, the likes of which I haven't experienced on a regular basis since the boys were born. And, it felt so good to just read and read and read, to arrive at the last twenty-five pages at midnight and find the stamina to keep going. Of course, it helped that those last twenty-five pages were the culmination of a gripping two hundred page section. The pacing of this literary bestseller was a little odd—the first half was haltingly slow, while the second half galloped at a break-neck pace.
Over the weekend I polished off a chunk of Heat, Bill Buford’s account of cooking in Mario Batali’s kitchen, which reads, not surprisingly, like a big, juicy New Yorker article. Then, I test-drove a new book for fifty pages, and I’m hooked. It’s Mischa Berlinski’s Fieldwork, a first novel set in Thailand, involving missionaries, demonic possession, taboo sex, and murder. I have yet to get to the parts about demonic possession and taboo sex, but you know the anticipation is compelling.
My book group meets tomorrow, and I’m trying to finish the book we’re reading—Blue Arabesque by Patricia Hampl, a slim meditation, inspired by a Matisse painting, on the odalisque in art. Not only is it boring, but the author is a little insufferable, but I think she had good intentions when she wrote it. I also started listening to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road during drive time, and one disc in, it’s sparse and unnerving.
Next up: Girls of Slender Means for the ongoing Muriel Spark discussion I am having with my friend Caryl.