Thursday, October 18, 2007

Book Binge

Well, it's pretty hard to turn off the internal critic, as you'd think I'd have figured out by now. I couldn't find a copy of The Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England, my store's clean out of them, so I borrowed Alice Sebold's The Almost Moon instead. I don't know what I expected -- I didn't read her first book, since I avoid murdered-kid novels -- but sentences like This was not the first time I'd come face-to-face with my mother's genitalia was not it.

One is reluctant to pile on after Lee Siegel's devastating review in the New York Times Book Review, in which he implied that Sebold's readers are insane. Interestingly, he also got a key plot point wrong, as Galleycat points out. (Siegel makes a big deal out of the murdered mom being put into the freezer, and there's even a cartoon of the mom in a freezer in the NYBTR, but in the book the mom is never actually put there.) The obvious conclusion to jump to is that Siegel didn't really read the book; however, I'll vouch for the fact that, having read it (albeit speedily), it's an easy mistake to make. (Hm... Lee Siegel is the guy who got in trouble at the New Republic for online sock-puppeting: making up an alias and using it to defend his own work. Nervy!)

In any event, I can't say The Almost Moon assisted me in my quest to just have fun reading. It's not fun.

However, I did enjoy Jim Shepard's Like You'd Understand Anyway, at least somewhat. It's very much a guy book: lots of research (Russian nuclear reactors, the Roman Empire, etc.,) not a lot of girly mooning around, not a lot of girls, actually. He's smart and talented and obviously carrying out a very clear vision, and for this I respect him.

Also I got started on Stephen Dixon's Meyer. Just a few pages in but I love it -- love being in Dixon's mind. The novel's about a writer with writer's block, so I'm relating.


Matthew Tiffany said...

I'm interested to see what you think of Meyer. Love Dixon, but I found it unreadable.

the individual voice said...

I intriqued that you can borrow books from your bookstore to read. Wonder if I should work in a bookstore. Is that common?

rmellis said...

I don't know how common it is... we can't take it if it's the last copy of a bestseller, and we're not supposed to take paperbacks since they look obviously read. (Though I did once and was supercareful.)

Though I liked teaching college and it paid better, working in a bookstore is really the ideal job for me. LOW stress is the key. I don't deal well with the complicated human interactions you get when teaching. I used to lie awake at night worrying about my students... never stopped feeling like I was doing a good enough job for them, etc. Now that I work at a bookstore my emotions are free for other uses...