First novel: Depressed woman locks herself up with hawk. (H is for Hawk)
Second novel: Blind girl and her father flee Nazis carrying a diamond. (All The Light We Cannot See)
Third novel: Fat boy tries to lose his virginity during the bloody reign of Trujillo in Dominican Republic. (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao)
Fourth (and current) novel: 2 guys try to defeat Hitler and get rich writing comic books. (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay)
Literature-wise, it’s been quite the summer. I went into this novel-reading project in an effort to escape time, and it’s worked. But..
I’m not happy.
Of all my strategies to slow down time this summer, this has been the hardest and, psychologically, the most uncomfortable.
It’s not been hard to read. Hell no. It’s been easy to dive in and and become immersed. It’s been easy to succumb to the captivating artistry of first-class storytellers, to live for long stretches in their virtual worlds. It’s been easy to while away weeks of afternoons in the hammock, swaying to the mind-music of literary virtuosos. It’s been pure heaven in a lot of ways. It’s reminded me of the Nancy Drew summers of my youth..
And it’s not been hard psychologically because all these novels have been a bit on the gloomy side. No. It’s really not that.
It’s totally because of me, and the the way I am.
I can’t seem to drown out the voice in my head that says that this novel-reading time might be better spent reading about neurobiology, and about what motivates people, and how to achieve mastery, and how to get into flow, and how (maybe) technology can take us there, or (maybe) not.
I keep staring at this pile of books that’s been accumulating on my shelf for the last 6 months or so.
These are the kinds of books that I attack with a pen in a my hand and an open notebook at my elbow.
These are the books that I scribble in, underline, and argue with. These are the books whose ideas I try to articulate and practice in my notebook to see if I’ve really understood them. These are the books that help me with the stuff I wonder about in the shower, and when I’m driving, or planning a yoga class. These are the books that completely jazz me.
In comparison, novel reading feels like polishing off a pint of gelato with a spoon while binge-watching Orange is the The New Black. So,so gooooood. So deliciously fun.
Now I feel it’s time to steam up some broccoli and brown rice.
So today I made a decision. I am going to finish Kavalier and Clay, and for the remainder of July, dig into this non-fiction pile. I’ll return to novels when I go to the beach later this summer, and then again when I have to fly to the West Coast.
It was a good plan, this reading project. Time has definitely slowed down in a very good way.