Continuing the "boring report" motif, this week I feature some tidbits from what I’ve been reading lately. (Don’t you wish I’d feature tidbits of what I’ve been writing lately? Hmmm. Sounds like a good idea. Maybe I will.) Anyway, in the past few weeks I’ve read a few interesting things that I’d like to talk about here.
First of all, I read Host. I’m not going to get into the whole Stephenie Meyer-bashing thing because I find it rather boring. It boils down, I think, to this: if the story is gripping enough to you, you might notice the writing flaws but you won’t put it down. If it’s not, then you’re not really in its audience so why spend time griping?
I’ve never had a problem picking up a “dessert book” once in a while. I love deep nourishing reads (I re-read Angle of Repose this month as well, and will have something to say about that later), but I like engrossing, plot-heavy quick reads occasionally as well. And Host was one of these. I read it quite quickly and am not ashamed to say that I enjoyed it. I like a little sci-fi now and then, and the whole concept was interesting to me. I especially liked pondering the effect that bodies can have on personalities (which Meyer really doesn’t get into until right near the end), a topic which has been major in my life as I have dealt with illness. So what’s not to like? Engrossing story, thought-provoking concepts. I’m glad I read it.
Next we come to Ann Patchett’s Truth and Beauty. A friend recommended it long ago and I finally got to it (memoir isn’t one of my favorite genres) because I just sort of stumbled on it at the library. It was very interesting reading, the story of a friendship between Patchett, a novelist, and her friend Lucy Greaves, a poet and memoirist. Lucy was a fascinating person both because of her poetic nature and her struggle to go through life with a distorted face (due to a brush with cancer in her childhood). The story gets gradually more depressing as it goes along (Lucy died as a result of a heroin OD) but I found myself reaching for a pen to write down some gems from the text. Here are my favorites:
“While Lucy had discovered that she was different from all of the other children in her grade school because she was sick and was different from all the other children on the hospital’s cancer ward because she continued to survive . . . “
This sentence stuck out to me because I recognize that feeling of not fitting in with either group. I find that a tiny corner of me is reluctant to get well. What about all the sick people I leave behind? Am I no longer welcome in their club? How can I talk to them anymore if I’m well? It’s sort of like being nine months pregnant and running into someone who used to be a companion in infertility—and she’s still infertile, and there’s your big belly staring her in the face. I find a small sense of loss about not being one of the “sick ladies in the ward” anymore. I have enjoyed new levels of friendship with people I never would have known well at all had it not been for my long-lasting (“chronic”) illness. If I get all the way well, for good, will they feel betrayed by me? Will I lose what I had with them?
“I’ve never met ‘Bob,’ yet I always have this strange compulsion to put his name in quotation marks.” (p. 98) This was about a guy that her friend was dating. I imagine it’s sort of related to saying “the Donald.” I have so felt this way about people my friends have dated (or married!). I wonder if there’s anyone out there who feels that way about me? (“So, Roger, how’s ‘Darlene’ doing?”)
“Cynicism, which is rarely more than a symptom of inflated ego anyway” p. 96.
On looking at people who had/have it much worse than you (i. e. Holocaust) in order to make yourself feel better: “It isn’t possible to use the death of six million to make oneself feel lucky, because after a while the enormity of that pain simply replaces your own, making it different and in no way better” (93)
“I have a very pure image of my own [deceased] father, one that is almost a myth. It has more to do with me than with him” (p. 35). This one so reminds me of my own feelings about my deceased mother. It's embarrassing when I realize how much of missing her is about me and not her. It makes me uncomfortable as a mom, too. If I were to die, would my kids miss ME or just themselves with me? Maybe it doesn't make much difference, but it hurts a little. I guess all relationships really are a product of the stories we tell ourselves about them.