a weekend of reading

July 24, 2006

I have been feverishly consuming text all weekend.

First it began with Yannick Murphy’s Here They Come, which I selected from the new books shelf at Chapel Hill Public Library because the cover was pretty and it was a McSweeney’s book. I enjoyed reading it but it is the kind of book that, when you only have twenty pages remaining you realize that indeed, nothing is going to happen. I prefer my novels with neat and clever plots.

Then I spent all day Sunday devouring Mark Z. Danielewski’s House Of Leaves, taking breaks for assorted weekened activities, like attempting to track down some curing salt for Sean’s new I-want-to-cure-my-own-bacon project, coloring with Matilda, and brushing Tallulah’s doll’s hair. This book has been recommended to me by a number of people, and I’m so glad I took those recommendations to heart, because it was such a joy to read a book like this. I completed reading everything in the book but the Johnny Truant narrative, which I will read later this week. All afternoon I flipped through the pages quickly, wide-eyed, being truly taken in to the story. I was so chuffed by the way the book was designed, that the very act of reading was so important to the story. I first realized how cool this was (I’d thought it might be kind of gimmicky so was pleasantly surprised by how it wasn’t) when I couldn’t find a footnote – the number was there next to a passage, and I looked on the bottom of the page, in other footnotes, on other pages, in other bits of text all over the place and I couldn’t find it. I was lost, just as the characters in the book realized the truly horrifying labyrinthine nature of the house. It was incredible. I keep having to restrain myself this morning from Googling commentary on the book; I need to wait to finish the Johnny Truant narrative first. But I am so curious! What is Redwood? What’s with the Ash Tree Lane/Yggdrasil thing? Why is Chad such a creepy little kid? etc.

Finally, I slipped a book that Roman sent me for my birthday, Joan Didion’s collection of essays, The White Album, into my bag this morning and read the first ten pages on the bus. Her writing is perfectly exactly clear yet clever, I was reading it and thinking, “OH yes! This is exactly what I want from a writer!” I had to force myself to put the book away when I got off the bus, as walking through campus with my nose in a book can be dangerous. But this! This is what I mean: By way of comment I offer only that an attack of vertigo and nausea does not now seem to me an inappropriate response to the summer of 1968.

It makes me happy to know that I have wonderful things to read waiting for me – Johnny Truant at home, Joan Didion in my bag.


3 Responses to “a weekend of reading”

  1. Rullsenberg Says:

    I am a HUGE HUGE fan of House of Leaves. A truly impressive book which I often go back to re-read (either in part or in whole). And I don’t yet know/understand what is fully going on but the journey is incredible. I won’t spoiler you – you’ll be glad to know – but take your time reading the appendix letter of Johnny Truant’s mother. Perhaps it is as much the process of reading that as it is the content, but truly, truly breathtaking.

  2. matt sweeney Says:

    between the music recommendations and the book mentions you’re killing my budget, you know that?

    I’ve actually been thinking about picking House of Leaves up again. I got it awhile ago and read about half of it, but got interupted and never picked it up again. Of course, I’ve still got the Hornby books that I picked up because of you (referencing your soccer comment from a couple of posts ago, Nick has a book about his love of soccer, if you care/don’t already know) and various other books. And now you toss Joan Didion onto the list.

    My point, I guess is to just say thanks. :)

  3. Matt Sweeney, thanks for saying that. It’s really sweet of you.

    Seriously check out the Joan Didion…lots of essays from the 60s and 70s that are exquisitely written.

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