11 May 2009

Books Pls

I finished Infinite Jest this weekend. It really is as awesome as they say, unless "they" are "the back of the book," in which case they're trying to pretend it's way more of a comedy than it is so as to trick you into buying a 1000-page book.

At some point in your life, when you are ready for a big commitment - both in reading time and heavy-ass-book-lugging-around - I strongly recommend you read this book. It's funny, brilliantly smart, full of a surprising amount of heart, and is a really incisive exploration of more themes and ideas than I probably realize.

It also took me - at an admittedly slow pace - almost exactly 4 1/2 months to read.

Saturday night I texted James a request to bring a book for me to borrow when we met up for a movie (Sugar - awesome) the next morning. I'm hoping to borrow the new Sarah Vowell from my sister when I see her this weekend (and I've requested it from the library just in case), but that left me with a bookless week looming, and on a libraries-closed Sunday. Finishing Infinite Jest hasn't left me needing a break from reading - I rather feel like I need to devour a book. I need 5o pages a day, something I can finish in a week, totally lose myself in, a satisfying narrative and emotional thing. Here's what I texted James:

Not fluffy, but a good fast read. Fiction. Not tragic. Eat the doc [Eat the Document] is a good level of difficulty, maybe a bit less? Indecision comes to mind, tonally. Like, not intuitionist.

(At the end there I got worried about character count, and dispensed with articles.)

James forgot or didn't have time, and so by the time we left the movie I was in a bookless panic. I was basically out of podcasts, too, and had rewatched the good two thirds of Dr. Horrible on my way to meet James (and Kate, who was there, but was not part of the failed book project). So, long story short, I spent an hour at Barnes & Noble trying to force my library-trained brain to spend $15 on a book, and then I gave up and just bought The New Yorker.

So the immediate crisis is temporarily averted, but I need some books to add to my library queue. Infinite Jest was such a consuming project that I stopped thinking about what else I wanted to read (beyond the Sarah Vowell, and AS Byatt's new book which is out in the UK but not here till October). So... what should I read? Doesn't need to be terribly new, but contemporary is good. I'm not ready for anything too ephemeral yet - think On Beauty more than, uh, well I come to The Intuitionist again. (I love that book, but it's like reading through a fog. A gorgeous, gorgeous fog.)



GregM said...

I just finished & enjoyed "The Shadow of the Wind"--smart, rich, gothic mystery/romance set in fascist-occupied post-WWII Barcelona, originally written in Spanish by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. All about books & love--a young student becomes obsessed with a writer who's gone missing.

Marissa said...

I agree, "Shadow of the Wind" is an excellent suggestion. It's kind of like "Possession" minus the poetry and the arcane digressions--lots of digging up old documents trying to find out about an author's life, that kind of thing. (meanwhile, the UK reviews of the new Byatt made me so anticipatory that all I can do is reread "Possession"!)

Bonus idea: "Wise Children"--every theater person should read this.

anna said...

yeah, shadow of the wind is enjoyable. i'm going to lobby hard for _wizard of the crow_. i read it almost two years ago and it's still my go-to rec for a reason.

are you my goodreads friend?

Johnny said...

I still think you'd love "The God of Small Things."

Also, ahem, Giovanni's Room? Super short, fast, and like eating a really delicious and overly-filling meal. At the end of which someone dies in the guillotine.

(Not a spoiler; Baldwin gives it away in the first five pages.)