Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another Three-Book Review

I have not kept up with much, have I? The 13 Libraries in 13 Weeks is so obviously becoming 13 Libraries Sometime by the End of the Year.  There are reasons for this. But yes, I have visited another library and will post that review next. First, though, I thought I'd catch up on some of my reading. These three books were checked out of two different libraries and remain books I'm excited about.

The Married Man by Edmund White. In three words: gorgeous, gorgeous prose. The sort of writing you slurp up, way past bedtime, with sentences you want to study to find out how the heck he does it and descriptions you want to roll around in like a cat in catnip.  The story is no slouch either. It pulses along on several continents, delineating intricate relationships among several men - some lovers, some not - and rolling to a complex, revelatory ending. I'll be reading more Edmund White, double-dog guarantee.

Counting Sheep by Paul Martin. Okay, this book just plain scared the bejesus out of me. The dangers of sleep deprivation are real and Martin reveals them all: the brain that falls apart, the body that breaks down, the accidents, the social consequences of drowzy ineptitude. It all seemed so familiar. So instead of trying to squeeze another hour of work on the computer (usually completely unproductive, anyway), I've been snoozing, cat-napping, dreaming, lolling around, catching zzz's, trying to offset the sleep debt that I've been living with (if you could call it that) for decades. Many decades -- more decades than I'd like to admit publicly. Begin with bad genes, add nervous habits and early-onset caffeine consumption, become a teen-ager, go to grad school, have kids, fit in a couple of jobs, well, I was pretty doomed.   What is the drug of choice for moms with kids (especially infants)? Sleep. Hours of sleep. Weeks of sleep. Months of sleep. I would have mainlined sleep if I could when the kids were tiny. And the craving only got stronger with time. Now I've been scared straight: I've got a sleep journal going; I've invested in actual jammies, not just those t-shirts and sweats no longer fit for daytime use; I'm taking NAPS!   I'm developing an eye for the good nap spots, too, much to the dismay of my employer.

The Niagara River by Kay Ryan. I've been a fan of Ryan's terse, lyrical, wry, playful, mind-twisting verse for a very long time. Not quite as long as I've been sleep-deprived, but close enough.  One reviewer noted, and I completely agree, that she is "immaculately off-kilter." She's unique; I can't think of another poet that I'd say she resembled.  But others of you out there, other poets in particular, might be able to point to someone.  So, let me know. And just because, here's one of the poems from this book.
Thanks, Kay.

A pitcher molds
the air in it, dividing
from the air beyond
the air it holds. And
should the pitcher
vanish, something
would take a minute
to escape, a gradually
diminishing integrity,
a thinning pitcherful
of pitcher shape.


  1. Did Counting Sheep say anything about the sleep benefits of eating ice cream before bed? If so, I'm set.

  2. ha, ha! I'm pretty sure ice cream is a sleep-aid. The calcium, you know. But probably we'll have to conduct a study and send him the results.

    Think I'll start tonight...


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