Saturday, December 26, 2009

Family Reading

Home for Christmas is always a slap of reading reality. Hang around writerly types too much and you’d believe everyone is griping about how The New Yorker only publishes Alice Munro.


Here’s what the fam has in hand this week: Nora Roberts, Michael Creighton, The Christmas Gift (about a woman reconciles some family issue), and some 19th century Celtic adventure that has a blurb by Frank McCourt on the back.

Me? U is for Undertow.

Nobody has to ask who Sue Grafton is. This was Mom’s present from my brother and his wife. Within minutes I had ferreted it upstairs. I went through a huge woman P.I. phase about fifteen years ago and I still want to write one. To tell the truth, it’s a relief to read a story where I don’t have to stop every other sentence and marvel at its perfect construction. O, the entendre!

The other day I met with a friend of mine, who is editor of a national magazine. I picked up her recently purchased copy of Middlesex sitting on the counter. She wanted to know what I thought. That’s a tricky one. Mainstream plot twister? Or esoteric literature?

“Okay,” she looked me in the eye. (These are the real book reviews, that take place in a kitchen with two fingers of bourbon). “Is it good? I mean, will I enjoy reading this or will it be work?”

“Well,” I said. “I dug it. But I love sprawling family epics.”

“Uhhhhhhh. I couldn’t finish A Hundred Years of Solitude.”

“What I will say, is that the book isn’t sprawling just to be sprawling. Meaning Middlesex is plotted. There’s a reason that you need Part A for Parts B and C.”

“Dang, this was my beach read,” she said.

“Oh, I liked it!” said the woman to my left, the third heat. Not enrolled in a PhD program, her readability opines can be trusted.

“Yeah?” said my friend, more interested now.

Maybe my freshman are right, there are only two real reviews: 1) It was good, I liked it. 2) It was boring.

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