Monday, February 23, 2009

Ah, winter

So.... the reason I haven't written anything in a while is... I've been snowed in for months! Not really. Anyway, someone reminded me that I hadn't updated this blog in a while so I thought that maybe I should.

I have been reading quite a bit. The great thing about commuting by subway is that you can actually just sit there and read. Sadly, I hardly ever get a seat on the train -- the Orange Line pretty much fills up at Wellington Station -- but I've learned how to turn the page and hold on to the pole at the same time with just one hand! It's a great skill -- I can give lessons if anyone's interested.

What I'm reading now: Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster. I got it from the Dudley Branch Library in Roxbury in the large print section. I just sort of ended up there. Great book, of course. I thought I'd read it before but maybe I just read "about" it so it seems overly familiar. It's tiny but I took a long time to read it because I was trying to study the sentences closely. I'm weak on building powerful, long sentences, and E.M. Forster writes a paragraph-long sentence and it's tight, sharp and not wordy at all. How? How, I ask! Anyway, I'll have to rent the movie at some point also to see how they pulled off the scenery. It's a great story -- one that's been told often but with the backdrop of rural Italy: English lady goes off to Monteriano, marries some younger guy, her family's horrified, he's a jerk, she dies in childbirth, etc. etc. What I want to know is how E.M. Forster writes a Young and Restless episode yet it comes off as high art. Ha!

Speaking of the Dudley Branch Library, I was so excited to find a Pippi Longstocking book for my niece. I yelped when I saw it on the shelf. Pippi stared at me from the cover with her red hair, freckled face and big nose and it felt like I was ten years old again fantasizing that I, too, could be strong enough to lift a horse and live in a big, old house all by my self, and have a pirate for a father. Thankfully, my niece is enjoying the book! I so loved Pippi Longstocking when I was a kid. Astrid Lindgren and Enid Blyton make me grateful that I grew up in "the colonies." It's too bad their books are not more popular here in America. Hopefully, I can get my niece to read all of the Pippi books.

I read the White Tiger by Arvind Adiga and was wowed. Very powerful book, fearless writing. For the people who still haven't seen Slumdog Millionaire, read this book instead. It's kind of a morality play that simultaneously indicts and praises breakneck economic growth in developing nations. Big, big issues but clear writing and funny as all hell. The protagonist is one of the best ever created. This book will make you think.

I also read Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata. Oy. Nobel prize winner. What can I say? Depressing, majestic, deep -- like standing in front of your house the day after a blizzard. So beautiful but so difficult to shovel. This was a great book because it humbled me immensely. I want to write deep, weird books that say everything about life in about 100 pages.
I did learn that I shouldn't waste anything when it comes to writing. Every morning on the way to work I see the most beautiful landscape along the Mystic River, especially right after it snows. Even the industrial sites along the train tracks evoke this lovely desolation that creates the perfect backdrop for a scene in some novel I have yet to write.

Yes, I am on this international writers kick about now. I will probably not read another American writer for a while because I'm discovering all these new places, cultures, and talents. It's like traveling around the world for almost free. And in this recession, that's about the only kind of traveling I can afford. But I'm loving it.

Happy reading.


Chris said...

Yo. SOMEONE reminded you to update your blog? No names? Is it because I'm not on Facebook? But here's a book question: Do you recommend Where Angels Fear to Tread for my crazy book club? If it's thin and sounds like a soap opera, I am so going to suggest it and trick them into reading something of substance.

Joanne said...

YOu know, I was going to write "CHRIS MURPHY told me ... " but I was trying to protect your identity. Yes, I def think your book club would love Angels. It's totally just like the Sexiest Man Alive but with fancier words --and punctuation and stuff.
Thanks again for coming out Sunday -- that was fun.

Anonymous said...

Your last post is so self indulgent....

Joanne said...

Ha ha. Hey, some people go to the spa; I write self-indulgent stuff (which no one should/needs to read if it bothers them so.)

Anonymous said...

Its just that you said this blog is going to be about "just books".

I believed you.

Make it up to me; Write me something about the best you ever read.

I'll be reading

Joanne said...

Anonymous: Stick around at your own risk. I can't guarantee that I won't go on another self-indulgent rant but I'll try my best not to.
P.S. The best book I've ever read is Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'll go read it. And it better live up to your billing otherwise I'll be back with more bothered comments.

I would still like to see your review of it.

Whats your next book about ?

Joanne said...

You will love Wide Sargasso Sea -- it's the best "crazy chick" story ever written. Well, it's in the top 10. My next book is about women, friendship and race. I will post a picture of the cover art.

What's your story, Anonymous? Do you want to introduce yourself? Feel free to e-mail me.

Anonymous said...

I am anonymous for a reason; I'd rather be heard, not seen.

Do you have a best white friend ?

Joanne said...

All my friends of all colors, shapes and sizes are my best friends.

Anonymous said...

Just got boring with that answer.

I expected more from an authour of your repute.