Change

I've been struggling for a while with why I'm actually writing this blog, and I don't know that I've come up with any satisfactory reasons. As a result, I am sure, I am struggling too with what to write, and why, and all those sorts of difficult questions.

For Diana's assigned reading this summer, she has a choice: Life of Pi or The Secret Life of Bees. As you might know, those aren't exactly kid's books.

Chestnut has Stargirl, along with, as she puts it, "some nonfiction book about bullying."

And me? I have no assigned reading exactly, though my book group is reading My Life in France, by Julia Child, which is endearing and delightful. But I've been bouncing around, bookwise, not quite landing on anything that I love, though lots of things I want to talk about.

So. I sort of thought, maybe I will write about those here. Maybe what I want to talk about, what I've always wanted to talk about, is books, and the books I was immersed in have been kids books.

Maybe not.

I just don't know, I will have to see.

Here's what I can tell you: I just finished Author! Author! by David Lodge, which is not a great book but which is heartfelt, or at least it seemed so to me. It's about Henry James, mostly the period of his life when he was trying to be a playwright, poor soul. And while it seemed oddly constructed and haphazard at times, it is also evidence of a deeply generous heart—Lodge's, I mean. It is a book about failure, really, and I've been thinking a lot about failure lately. The end was clumsy and affecting both. It's a book, I think, for a person who is no longer young, who knows a thing or two about failure, and continues on. I wish you would all read it and tell me what you think. Though of course, that's not fair to ask.

I will just have to see how this goes.

13 thoughts on “Change

  1. I look forward to reading anything you have to say about books.
    As for summer reading lists — they’re getting weirder and weirder. My eighth grade son is going to read Persepolis? I’m trying not to feel all stodgy and old, but I’m feeling stodgy and old.
    As for my reading — Richard Ford’s new novel is pretty decent, and I read the greatest memoir by Joe Blair.

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  2. All I know is, my heart lifts up when I see your posts in my reader, no matter what the topic. Write on whatever you like!

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  3. As long as you write, I’ll be happy. I know more about kids’ books, though, since I never have time to read grown-up books unless I’m teaching them. Sad, no?
    And I’m completely with you that summer reading lists have gone all bizarre. My daughter’s 8th grade summer reading list is a weird mix of Newbery must-reads (A Long Way From Chicago), somewhat dated 1960s YA novels (Z for Zachariah, by the beloved Robert C. O’Brien, but why, for the love of all that is holy, would you assign this one? in which the young post-apocalyptic heroine is alone on earth, then meets a crazy guy who attacks her and she *blames herself for his violence*?), and recent didactic novels (Breathing Underwater, which could be reasonably subtitled “Why Hitting My Girlfriend Was a Really Bad Choice, and Why I Am Better Because of Anger Management Classes”).

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  4. I will chime in and agree–I will read whatever you write. I am in the same situation…or I will be soon. I used to teach elementary school, so I read A LOT of children’s books, and then I had kids so that continued. My oldest is eleven on Thursday, my other two are eight and I am still reading kid’s books, but most of what it is now is chapters. As for my job, now I teach college. I would appreciate some adult book talk intermixed with some kid stuff. It would be so nice to have a place to talk books… any books…and feel okay about myself. 🙂

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  5. Agree, agree! I love this blog.
    My soon-to-be kindergartener has Harry Potter on his list. I can’t imagine having him read it or having me read it to him. Maybe in a few years.
    I just finished the Sorcerer’s Apprentice which is about the life of a stagiare at El Bulli. It makes you never want to become a professional cook (not that that was ever an option).

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  6. I read your opening lines and dreaded the following being something like ‘so I’m going to take a break..’. Like the others I’ll happily read what you write, you have a voice of great common sense and humour.
    I heard a radio interview with David Lodge about ‘Author Author’ in which he spoke so interestingly about spending years writing and researching this novel only to release it, completely coincidentally at almost the same time as Colm Toibin released ‘The Master’, also about Henry James. What are the chances?

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  7. Yes- I will read whatever you write. I love reading children’s books (still) but also read adult books. If you write about books I’ll read it. If you write about frog ponds I’ll read it.
    You could even start an online children’s book group and I will play. Whatever you want.
    (And just to tantalize- I just started a really good ARC of a middle grade fantasty/mystery called, The Peculiar. Just about 10 pages in and I am hooked. Hope it lives up to its early promise.)

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  8. You guys are so freaking nice, it’s making me all confused about how I think the internet is supposed to be. Yes, we will carry on and talk about books and frog ponds and El Bulli and being stodgy and old, or otherwise. Your comments are so kind, they’ve really improved my day more than I can say.

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  9. I agree too! I was worried that you were going to take a break and I’m so glad you’re not.
    I think the blog world has kind of calcified into this idea, born of marketing and monetizing, that blogs have to be about a particular topic. And a lot of blogs kind of wither and die because the authors can’t post about whatever the heck they want. But some of the best blogs are those that don’t limit themselves, because really the best writing comes from people who write about whatever interests them at the moment.
    I’m powering through Neal Stephenson’s Anathem. It took me forever to get started because every time I cracked the book I quailed at the detailed chronology mostly consisting of made-up words I didn’t understand. But once I realized I could skip that, and just plunged into the actual writing, it turned out to be a pretty compelling read, especially for someone like me who is interested in monastics and likes sci-fi.
    I really like David Lodge and have a special place in my heart for The British Library is Falling Down, which is hilarious and also includes unmarked sections written in the styles of different famous authors–it’s fun to spot those. On paper it’s about a very dated time and issue, but it never feels that way to me when I re-read it.

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  10. I, too, am quite glad you’re not taking a blogging break. (Is that selfish of me? Perhaps.) I mostly read children’s and YA novels, but right now I’m reading Fahrenheit 451, and it’s knocking my socks off.
    regarding what to write about: I’ve wondered how you feel about certain inconsistencies you find in children’s literature–one being a character that is depicted as a young child in one book but then engages in an adult type activity in another title. I’m thinking here specifically of Maisy.
    you’re wonderful, keep on writing!

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  11. I’m late, I’m late, so I’ll just agree with the others. You’re always thoughtful and you make me think; I don’t see that changing if you decide to broaden your topic. Write on!

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  12. It would be so hypoctitical of me to be grumpy if you took a blogging break, since I seem to have taken a permanent one, but I would be, anyway, and am very glad you’re planning to keep writing.
    I’m floundering around between books, after reading a few really wonderful ones. Sometimes I reread an old favorite at a time like this, especially one that is totally unrequired for my job– something soothing like Laurie Colwin’s HOME COOKING. I’ve just reread that a month or two ago, though, so maybe I’ll go back to HEARTBURN.

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