Thursday, January 17, 2008

Throw Open the Windows

It's not like I finished any books or anything, but I started a few new ones last night, and it was pretty exciting. I am so easily pleased by new things--shiny! covered with glitter!--that it's a little embarrassing how bad I am at finishing the old ones. Around my house it's common knowledge that I'm great at the first 90% of a task, and really, really, REALLY awful at the last 10%.

So here I am, poking around in Maisie Dobbs by, I believe, Jacqueline Winspear (Mike wasn't sure that was the author's name since it's much less believable as a person's name than Maisie Dobbs. This is a 1920s lady detective story, and the five pages I've read are awesome. Thanks to Becky for that recommendation.

1 Dead in Attic is a collection of essays written by New Orleans journalist Chris Rose after Hurricane Katrina. I'm guessing he was a columnist, because he seems to have written the essays weekly. I read about the book online somewhere, but I probably wouldn't have picked it up if it wasn't for Dooce linking to his column describing the depression he suffered in the aftermath of all the suffering he witnessed. I was really impressed by the article--he does an excellent job of writing about depression from both sides, both as someone who has and is suffering from it, but also as someone who never really understood it until it happened to him. Even the most sensitive of us can have trouble understanding a mood disorder until we've experienced it--and sometimes not even then. (Like Laurie in my college psych class who raised her hand to contribute, "I don't understand why depressed people don't just decide to get happy." Sadly, she was a psych major.)

So far, I've only read about three of the columns, but they're really beautiful, full of pain and guilt (his house was barely damaged) and bewilderment. My only wish is that there was a map in the book; I don't know enough about New Orleans to have a clear picture of all the geographical background he gives, and I think a little help might be useful.

I haven't finished anything, though, so I need to get back on task for that last 10% (though it's really more than half of the two books I'm in the middle of that need to be finished. And I really want to read Caddie Woodlawn soon. So much to do! Burdensome!)


Carl said...

Sometimes I wish I had the condition that you do. I cannot seem to NOT finish a book once I start. It is a curse sometimes. Right now I am reading an "Epic Fantasy" series that is around 700 pages per book. I am on the fifth book but I should have stopped five books ago.

The devastation in New Orleans is hard to imagine, even for those of us in Louisiana. I went to a Saints game last year and was blown away (no pun intended) at how much stuff has still not been rebuilt. It will be a long road to recovery.

Alex Z said...

I read most of 1 Dead in Attic. I thought it was fascinating, and his columns were well written, but I had a hard time staying with it because of the lack of through narrative (the columns are not arranged in chronological order), combined with the basic bleakness of the subject matter. If you read the intro, you know that as of the book's publication he was getting divorced, so that just added to my overall sense of sadness as I read.