|My old friend Moye and I, in a library in another life after life|
So, I stayed up until after 1:00 in the morning last night, reading. I haven't done that, literally, in years. I haven't read a book, literally, in years that was worth staying up until 1:00 in the morning (except for the books of my friends Tanya, Carrie, and Karen, of course). Recently, my old friend Moye and I discussed our slight anxiety about the fact that we were having a difficult time getting through novels. I discarded The Goldfinch about 300 pages in, bored and distracted to tears. I got to around page 400 of The Luminaries before calling it a day, realizing that I had no idea of who was whom and what had been happening. Now, let me tell you that my friend Moye is brilliant. She's an artist and a writer and physically beautiful and just about perfect in every single way, so if she's having difficulty getting through novels, well, I feel a teensy tinesy bit better. Like maybe it's not just me. We batted around theories, one of which included our age (this is the one that causes the bit of anxiety because what will life be like if we can't read novels until we die?), another that maybe, just maybe, these gigantic tomes that get so much literary acclaim are actually not that great after all (this is the one where we rest on our secret collective brilliance) and then there's the very real fact that both of us find reading on an e-reader might be part of the problem (this is arguable, though, as I bought the hard copy of The Goldfinch). Moye's very brilliant, artistic and good-looking architect husband suggested, apparently, that there's something to the heft of a book, the literal tactile sense of it, that aids in the reading. We exclaimed as true book nerds might, about how much we love the look of fonts and how lacking an e-reader is in that regard.
This is the sort of thing that Moye and I can talk about, endlessly, on the phone. We've known each other since seventh grade, through boyfriends and husbands and brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers. We're godmothers to each other's daughters. We share the same sense of humor and brown eyes. Moye is quieter than I and certainly more talented. She listens to books on tape at a startling speed (not my forte, at all) and she's a hell of a lot thinner than I, but she'll tell you that my skin is enviable, and that I sleep much better than she does (not because of anything we've done or not done -- I just don't suffer from The Insomnia) -- and well -- I adore her.
What about this book that I read until bleary-eyed? It's Kate Atkinson's Life After Life. Reader, I can't stop reading it. I honestly carried it with me today and read snatches of it whenever I had to stop the car, wait in the carpool line, wait for Oliver to finish some assignment I'd given him. Hell, I even propped it open on the bed and read while I folded clothes. I don't even know how to describe it to you, other than to exclaim over the story -- a real, romantic, convoluted story whose characters are real, romantic, convoluted and terribly interesting. The story is a web woven by a wickedly funny spider who might just be a descendant of the queen bee of spiders, Virginia Woolf. Not really. That's just a lame metaphor, and I felt like I had to get Virginia Woolf in there as much of the writing takes me to the same joyous spot I've been in reading To the Lighthouse or The Waves or Orlando. You know: when you're in the writer's subconscious. There's a dream life running throughout the pages of Life After Life, there is drama and mystery and sex and rape and World War I and abuse and love and early psychotherapy, babies and beautiful men and women -- hell, you need to take my word. Buy a copy, the hefty hardback and read it.
I'm halfway through and believe I just might finish it in record speed. Not bad for a fifty year old gal, right Moye?