Wednesday, January 25, 2006

She's Back!

Vacation is so wonderful, but it drifts away so fast when you settle back into your day-to-day. Which day-to-day has been seeming particularly overloaded lately, but who's surprised by that? No one.

Anyway, there's of course book club drama--I'm very sensitive to the unpopular feeling of people not being able to come to MY meeting. I do understand that I didn't remind anyone till yesterday, and I'm aware that I'm being unreasonable. Still. Anyway, rescheduled (Monday, everyone!) and I'll have more time to gather resources for the meeting. Mmmm....resources.

But I'm reading On Beauty by Zadie Smith, at Mike's suggestion. I appreciated White Teeth and saw how good it was, but I'm really happy to say that I'm both appreciating and enjoying this book. It might be that the setting is American (Boston, in fact), or that I'm familiar with the nature of the elite liberal arts institution, or that I've been waiting for ten years for an educated insider to tell me how silly deconstructionism can be. (I also love that she never calls it that.)

But she does so many interesting things. Though race is clearly present in the story (and it's by Zadie Smith), it's a little while before I realized that it would be a major theme. Though the title is On Beauty, it was a while before I realized how it would shape the story. She lifts chunks of the plot directly from Howard's End, characterization and all (even sneaking in a walk-on character named Wilcox). She cuts away at the beginning of a major climax, to resume the story months later when all the characters have gotten used to the aftermath of the incident. It's really excellent.

Highly recommended. I'm resisting the library, though perhaps not for long, having just bought Collapse by Jared Diamond and the His Dark Materials trilogy. I have so many books I must read at home, but I've been seized, after seeing a bit on CNN at the airport, with a need to read books about people who are leaving isolated religious communities. For this, I need the library.

I could really stand to be under house arrest for a few months. Or bedridden (God forbid).

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