Tuesday, May 31, 2011

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Crunch Time, Left for Dead, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

At Home

May has been quite an epic month. Pardon the drama, but I can find no other way to encapsulate a long month that encompassed final projects, tests, and papers. In fact one of those final projects involved a 96-hours stretch in which I got only 10 hours of sleep and three meals. Plus, it culminated in a mondo work session of 24 consecutive hours. I strove all semester to avoid getting myself into this situation, but, in the end, found it unavoidable. And, now, I am working toward acceptance that design school is insane that way—overly detail oriented and not enough time to attend to everything. So all I can do this summer is recover and reposition myself for fall. I’m digging deep to make myself smarter, faster, more confident than ever.

Naturally, part of my self-improvement will involve reading as much as I possibly can, for pleasure and for learning. As soon as finals were done, but before I’d caught up fully on lost sleep, I made a trip to the library. Then I hefted a thick mystery—Diane Mott Davidson’s Crunch Time—for pure entertainment. Crunch Time is the sixteenth novel in Davidson’s series, which features caterer-sleuth Goldy Schulz. I find that these mysteries (or novels of suspense as the jacket proclaims) are becoming increasingly overplotted. In fact, this book is over 400 pages, and I thought it was a little long. I know that the fictitious Colorado town where these stories are set is small and that Goldy must know everyone, but the relationships, particularly to the victim, are becoming more convoluted. It is clear, however, that Davidson intends to write more mysteries in this series—she dropped a bit of intrigue into Goldy and Tom’s personal life with a definite cliffhanger. Here’s more about the plot.

Over Memorial Day weekend, John and I took the boys to my parents’ house, which is a four-hour drive. We used to listen to audio books but now I read aloud, which I really enjoy. On this trip, we read Beck Weathers’ Left for Dead, which had been a recent Mother’s Day present. My dear husband has done his best to keep my adventure book section stocked with climbing dramas.

Weathers’ story, for the most part, was satisfying. He was a member of the 1996 season on Mt. Everest during which there was a record number of deaths. This is the climb that Jon Krakauer captured in Into Thin Air. Weathers didn’t summit because he was having unexpected side effects from a radial keratotomy and lost his ability to see. His limited vision also made it difficult for him to make it back to camp during a snowstorm so he hunkered down with a fellow stranded climbers and waited to be rescued or die. When his rescuers arrived, they left Weathers for dead since he was in a hypothermic coma and there was little perceived chance for survival.Who knew that Weathers would become conscious, pry his frozen body out of the snowfall, and walk back into camp.

In Left for Dead, Weathers tells the story of the clinical depression he “treated” with the physical exertion and with the ego boost of success that comes from climbing tall mountains. He tells about how the depression, his absences, and the excessive risks he took as a father and husband nearly destroyed his marriage. And, Weathers describes the injuries that he suffered from Everest and the long, long road to physical recovery. But, he doesn’t spend much time addressing how he worked on his marriage. Still, enough of the book appeased my craving for adventure writing that I enjoyed it.

Finally, I listened to David Sedaris’ latest book, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. I truly believe his books are best on audio. Sure, I can hear his voice in my imagination when I read, but it’s so much more satisfying. Sedaris is a performer and listening to him on audio is like having him in the car, telling me a story. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is a delightful and wickedly funny, modern set of Aesop’s-like fables, some of which don’t have happy endings. My favorite story was “The Parenting Storks” in which two sisters dispel myths about where babies come from and discuss parenting philosophy.Very, very funny stuff.

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