In my description of this blog, I included among its possible contents "essays about life." A series of unfortunate events squelched my desire to publish those essays, but my fan (Hi, Miss Judy!) has requested a few "Life" posts thrown in between the "Sewing" posts. Considering my fan and her daughter (Hi, LeeAnn!) have been reading my humble blog for SEVEN years now, I'm overcoming my hesitation and obliging. So, I'll start with something pretty tame.
I started reading fiction again.
For the past, oh, SIX years my reading has been nonfiction. Getting pregnant. Being pregnant. Childbirth. (Oh, LANDS, the childbirth books.) Breastfeeding. Sleep Training. Parenting. Positive Parenting. Education. Home Education. Self Help. Spiritual Help. Spiritual Self Help. Marriage. Sewing.
I've returned to the World of Fiction. I read a book NOT written by an expert! It was about fake people! Some of them weren't even parents!
First up, Sycamore Row. It's John Grisham's latest novel. It takes place in Clanton, Mississippi, where we meet back up with one of my favorite fictional characters -- Jake Brigance.
Have you read A Time to Kill? For years I couldn't get past the first chapter. (It's brutal and disturbing.) It's been many years and several kids since I read it, but I've seen the movie roughly 179 times.
When Ryan and I were newly marrieds, we lived in separate cities for six or so months while I finished grad school. I lived in Elizabethton, TN, in an outbuilding that had been divided into four totally gross one-room rentals. No bathroom door. No cable. There was a tiny TV and VCR, so I brought my VHS tapes and watched them every night in order to get to sleep. (The guy next door chain smoked and sang "Shall We Gather at the River" at the top of his lungs. I had to drown it out.)
The thing that always struck me about Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) and Carla Brigance (Ashley Judd) was their sweat. Everyone in the movie A Time to Kill sweated. All the time. Jake and Carla especially. Now, I'm from Memphis and I know it gets HOT in the summer. But really. Most of us (even in the Deep South) have air conditioning now. Or at least a rag or something to mop our brows.
Oh, My Goodness. That's the longest digression ever. Maybe I should write more often.
I love Jake, or at least the Matthew McConaughey version of Jake. So naturally I loved Sycamore Row. It has lots of entertainment value. Toward the end of the book, the pace picks up and the suspense held my interest. It reminds me of Grisham's old novels that I enjoyed -- A Time to Kill, The Firm, The Client, The Rainmaker, and such.
Secretly I'm hoping they make it into a movie and I get to watch Matthew McConoughey speak in a glorious Southern drawl and sweat for 1.5 hours. (Secretly I also hope if they make said movie they will work with Ashley Judd on her accent. I mean, she didn't have one in the first movie. She just threw in an occasional "Honey" or "Sugar." Weird.)
On to my second, even more sophisticated book review.**
This one's been around for a while, right? I think everyone went ga-ga for it a couple of years ago (when I was elbow-deep in one of those Self-Help books) and I missed it.
Life's all about timing.
It seems like someone should have warned me this book is about an unemployed woman whose husband compels her to move to his hometown, and she subsequently GOES CRAZY and/or DIES.
It's a psychological thriller. I get why people like it, but maybe I've read too many Self-Help books to put much stock or worry into the contradiction between images/visions of how we imagine life should be vs. how life really is. I just didn't feel it. Also, I predicted things very early on, so I don't see the "suspenseful" part.
Instead of actually using that degree to which I referred and giving an intelligent critique, I'll just say it wasn't my bag.
Last up. And this one is the BEST.
While I'm sewing late into the night, Kinsey Millhone keeps me company. Since August, I've been downloading Sue Grafton's books on audio from our local library. (A is for Alibi, B is for Burgler, C is for Corpse, etc.) I'd read the series before, but it had been years since my aunt introduced me to the books. Listening to them in order has allowed me to binge on Kinsey and really get to know her.
As entertaining as the plots of Sue Grafton's novels are, it's Kinsey that makes them spectacular. Kinsey is a private detective. She's a quirky character with whom I'd want to be friends. (I'm convinced she'd make an exception to her I-Have-No-Girl-Friends-and-Don't-Want-Any rule for me.) Kinsey is an information junkie. She describes herself as a terrier when there's an unanswered question. She owns one black dress and lives in boots and jeans. She runs 3 miles every morning at 6am. She is disciplined and determined.
Plus she's stuck in the '80s, which is pretty stinkin' awesome. (Sue Grafton's books are sequential, and because each case is only a few months apart, the whole series has taken place in less than a decade.)
I'm listening to W is for Wasted now, which is the last one Grafton has written in the series so far. I highly recommend these books if you enjoy a relatively suspenseful mystery with a kick-butt heroine who has no intention of kicking butt.
That's all I've got. Reading fiction - sitting down and reading a hard-copy of a book - is a little difficult for me. From the time I was Lee's age I was obsessed with books. If I pick up a fiction book, all of life goes on hold. I carry it with me everywhere and read it whenever I can (and lots of times whenever I shouldn't). There are whole summers I don't remember because my nose was buried in a book.
I won't be returning to my veracious, demoniacal reading tendencies while the kids still need help wiping their rears, but I do hope to have one of these posts every once in a while. That is, if the fan(s) approve. (Hi again, Miss Judy and LeeAnn!)
**My graduate degree is in English. And I'm a librarian by profession. I should be able to write a comprehensive, intelligent book review. My Self-Help books have taught me when to say, "That's just not working for me today."
(Disclaimer: all of these books are rated R. Or PG-13 if, for instance, you read Truman Capote's In Cold Blood as a 12-year-old girl.)
How about you? Have you read any good books lately? Are you (like me) waiting, PANTING with HEAVING BOSOM for Diana Gabaldon's latest Outlander book to be released this summer? <<<< If not, you totally won't get that joke. I'm neither panting nor do I have a bosom.