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Book 60 Completed

September 29, 2010

It’s been a great week in books for me! I finished Alex Garland’s The Tesseract. I’m twenty minutes away from finishing my last CD of Lush Life. And during Reading Wednesdays in my classes today, I read 100 pages of Let the Great World Spin.

Now, not all of that is challenge related, but it felt liberating today to curl up with Let the Great World Spin (literally curled, in my big black teacher chair) and let myself get lost in a book that has nothing to do with my Around the World demands. (It’s actually our book club pick for November, but I was so excited about reading it that I couldn’t wait.)

The Tesseract was good. Not fantastic. Not a rapid-fire-page-turner. But Garland’s a solid writer — even if it feels like you can see the puppet strings, the wheels turning, the craft visible on occasion (self-conscious is the best way to explain it) — and his sense of place and character seemed well-developed and nuanced.

The book was divided up into four parts. Part I was easily the best. Part II took me a little bit to get into, because I was still engaged with the characters from Part I and I wasn’t ready to leave that story yet. Part III was rough — even though I think those were probably the best written characters in the whole book. It was rough because all the parts were disjointed from each other and just when I found myself enthralled…Garland dragged me to a new time and place, with new people. Yes, in Part IV all those characters connect. But at that point, I wanted more of each of them — so, the book seemed light…where it could have gone deeper, where it could have done more.

I’m glad I read it and I think I would like more of Garland; the book didn’t amaze me, but it stayed with me — it grew on me a little from the time I put it down last night until right now, this second, as I am forced to try to tell the world (well, like twenty people) what I thought. Who knows? It might grow on me more by tomorrow — certainly, there was a cinematic feel to the whole thing; paced and plotted for a movie. Despite that, it didn’t lose its literary quality. I’ll give Garland kudos for accomplishing that fine balance.

Malaysia next — the book is waiting at the library for me right now!

Since Matt has commandeered the television to watch The SF Giants game (don’t get me started on the tension in my home right now over the NL West race), I might take my keys and go finish up the rest of Lush Life in my car. Why in my car? Why not bring the CD in and plug it into my computer for those last pages? It’s a beautiful night here in Oregon and I think it sounds lovely to go retreat to the car…recline my seat, stretch my bare feet up on the dashboard, close my eyes, and discover how this Lower East Side drama will play out. When I was in high school, I would do this same exact thing: leave the din of my small house, the television show my dad was watching, my little brothers wrestling, my mom on the phone — and take a CD to my white Mercury Cougar, recline the seat as far as it could go, plop my feet up over the steering wheel, and listen to music until someone came to get me. The music might be Bobby Cannavale’s smooth voice tonight, but the sentiment’s the same.

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